How Facebook Ended Up Paying $15 Million to Settle Employment Discrimination Claims

As workplaces diversify, employment discrimination cases are on the rise.  These occurrences have become publicized more and more as employees are no longer afraid to speak out.

There have also been some high-profile cases that throw discrimination in the spotlight, such as a recent payout from social media giant Facebook.

Facebook settled with the Department of Justice over claims that it refused to recruit or hire United States workers for positions it set aside for temporary visa holders. The company will pay out $14.25 million.

The Claim

In December of 2020, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit accusing Facebook of giving hiring preferences to temporary workers, including those who hold H-1B visas. These visas are commonly used by tech companies, and let the company temporarily employ foreign workers in certain specialty occupations.

The claim alleged this occurred from at least Jan. 1, 2018, until at least Sept. 18, 2019.

An investigation found that when a Facebook employee with a temporary immigration status requested to become a permanent employee through the permanent labor certification (PERM) process in connection with an open job, Facebook deviated from standard recruiting processes and instead allegedly actively deterred U.S. workers from applying for those roles.

Some practices the Justice Department pointed out to be unlawful were recruitment practices like requiring applications to be submitted only by mail and refusing to consider American workers who applied for positions and hiring only temporary visa holders.

How The Money Breaks Down

Facebook will pay a $4.75 million civil penalty under the terms of the settlement and make available up to $9.5 million to eligible victims.

The Department of Justice said that the Civil Rights Division would work with the company to identify potential victims to receive this payment. The agency will ultimately approve this list of people.

What Else They Have to Do

Facebook will also have to advertise job opportunities for PERM positions more widely. The PERM system is used for obtaining Labor Certification and is the first step for certain foreign nationals in obtaining an employment-based immigrant visa.

The company must also take steps to ensure its processes for filling PERM positions match typical hiring practices. The Department of Labor will also require the company to receive ongoing audits and greater scrutiny to ensure its compliance with the PERM program for the next three years.

This stemmed from a 2021 audit from the Department of Labor that looked at the company's pending PERM applications. This was opened after the Department of Justice claim.

Why It's A Big Deal

Kristen Clarke, assistant U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said this deal represents the largest civil penalty the Civil Rights Division has ever recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

This key immigration law bars discrimination against workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.

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