Facebook ignored American applications to take more foreign workers.
Facebook will pay nearly $15 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit alleging that the social media company discriminated against American workers in favor of foreigners.
According to National Public Radio, the settlement requires Facebook to pay a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims.
Facebook has also agreed to provide its employees and recruiters enhanced anti-discrimination training. The company also plans to expand its job advertisement program.
National Public Radio notes that the lawsuit centered on Facebook’s apparent preference for highly-skilled foreign recruits over American workers. In its complaint, the Justice Department’s civil rights division said that Facebook “routinely refused” to recruit, hire—or consider hiring—U.S. workers, including American citizens, permanent residents, and refugees.
Instead, Facebook selected foreign recruits and sponsored their “green cards.”
Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, told N.P.R. that, while Facebook may have seemed like it was doing good by getting its workers green cards, it tried to influence national immigration policy on a broader scale.
“In principle, Facebook is doing a good thing by applying for green cards for its workers, but it has also learned how to game the system to avoid hiring U.S tech workers,” Costa told N.P.R. “Facebook started lobbying to change the system more to its liking starting back in 2013 when the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate was being negotiated.”
In a statement, the Justice Department praised the fine and settlement, showing that even the country’s largest, most profitable and powerful companies are not above the law.
“Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation’s federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a press conference. “Companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status.”
Facebook has said that the settlement, which will allow it to resume its permanent labor certification program, will help the company do bigger and better things going forward.
“These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world, and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence,” Facebook said.
Nevertheless, National Public Radio and The Washington Post both note that the cumulative $15 million in fines will scarcely be felt by Facebook—a company valued at over $1 trillion, which turned a revenue of some $86 billion last year alone.
Facebook, as LegalReader.com has reported before, continues to face a anti-trust lawsuit led by the Federal Trade Commission. The F.T.C. has argued that Facebook holds a near-monopoly on social media, and regularly engages in anti-competitive practices.
Over the course of the last several years, Facebook has acquired several of its strongest competitors, including the image-sharing platform Instagram and the mega-popular WhatsApp messaging application.