Facebook Settles Claims It Discriminated Against US Workers

Author: Michael Cardman, Brightmine Legal Editor

October 20, 2021

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14 million to settle claims brought by the federal government that it "routinely refused to recruit, consider or hire US workers" in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The INA generally prohibits employers from discriminating against workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.

Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million and pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of its alleged discrimination - the largest fine and monetary award ever recovered in the 35-year history of the INA's anti-discrimination provisions. In addition, Facebook agreed to train its employees on the INA's anti-discrimination requirements.

Last year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit claiming that Facebook reserved more than 2,600 positions with an average salary of about $156,000 for temporary visa holders through the US Department of Labor's permanent labor certification program, which allows an employer to hire foreign workers to work permanently in the US. The DOJ claimed that Facebook "used recruiting methods designed to deter US workers from applying to certain positions" and thereby discriminated against US workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.

"Companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. "This settlement reflects the Civil Rights Division's commitment to holding employers accountable and eradicating discriminatory employment practices."

The DOJ's lawsuit was part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to encourage companies to hire more workers domestically. Among other things, the administration also tightened standards for temporarily employing foreign workers under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program and blocked work visas through the end of 2020 for thousands of foreign workers seeking jobs in the US (a move that was later blocked by a federal judge).