The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Thursday for allegedly discriminating against American workers in its hiring process.
During an investigation beginning in 2018, the DOJ found that Facebook intentionally held about 2,600 positions for workers with temporary visas who the company sponsored for green cards. The positions reserved by the company for temporary workers paid salaries of $156,000 on average.
According to the suit, Facebook channeled those positions to temporary workers in part by refusing to advertise those job openings on its website, requiring applications by physical mail to dissuade potential American job seekers.
“The Department of Justice’s lawsuit alleges that Facebook engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified U.S. workers,” Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband said in a press release. “Our message to all employers—including those in the technology sector—is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers.”
Tech companies generally considers high-skilled immigrant workers to be a key part of the industry in the U.S. Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told The Mercury News earlier this year that around 58 out of every 100 Silicon Valley tech engineers are immigrants.
Guardino’s comments came after the Trump administration issued a temporary moratorium in June on issuance of H1-B visas, which allow foreign nationals to work in the U.S. and offer a path to citizenship. The administration said it issued the moratorium to open positions for American workers amid high levels of unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tech companies including Amazon, Google, Intel, and Microsoft reacted with dismay to the move.
“Preventing high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts American’s global competitiveness at risk,” Amazon said in a statement at the time.