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Facebook has settled with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which filed a lawsuit over the social media giant’s recruitment of foreign workers on temporary US visas ahead of hiring American staff.
The social media platform, founded by Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, also settled separately with the US Department of Labor (DoL) over potential recruitment violations.
Its understood that Facebook will pay a $4.75 million civil penalty under the terms of the DoJ settlement, and a further $9.5 million will be made available to pay eligible victims. The DoJ settlement follows a lawsuit filed against Facebook during the Trump administration in 2020.
Discriminated against US workers
The lawsuit alleged that Facebook discriminated against US workers by ‘reserving certain posts’ for temporary US visa holders from January 1, 2018 until at least September 18, 2019.
The DoJ and DoL claimed that the social media giant ‘intentionally overlooked US workers’ based on their citizenship and US immigration status while using the permanent labor certification program, or PERM.
An official for the DoJ said: “The Civil Rights Division will work with Facebook to identify potential victims and will ultimately approve a list of people eligible for a payout.”
However, the fine imposed has been branded ‘vanishingly small’ considering that Facebook is worth almost $1 trillion. Nevertheless, the settlement represents further bad press for the social media network, which has come under heavy fire over how its products can negatively affect some of its users.
Largest fine recovered
According to a report published by CNBC News, the fine represents the largest ever recovered by the DoJ Civil Rights Division under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision.
Facebook has also been warned that it will have to advertise all future jobs for PERM positions more widely and ensure that steps are taken to uphold the processes for filling those positions in accordance with typical hiring practices.
The separate settlement with the DoL follows a 2021 audit of Facebook’s pending PERM applications, which opened after the DoJ had filed its lawsuit. The DoL reportedly found violations in Facebook’s hiring processes following the audit.
The social media giant will now have to submit to ongoing audits and compliance checks with the PERM program for the next three years, in line with the terms of the DoL settlement.
Met federal government standards
Despite settling with the DoJ and DoL, Facebook maintains that it met all federal government standards for its use of the PERM program.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “While we strongly believe we met the federal government’s standards in our permanent labor certification (PERM) practices, we’ve reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program, which is an important part of our overall US immigration program.”
“These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the US and around the world, and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence,” the spokesperson added.
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