- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Justice Department said Thursday that Facebook “intentionally” discriminated against U.S. workers and hired foreign guest workers instead — and actively tried to deter Americans from even applying.

For most of its jobs the California tech giant abides by the law, but in cases when a foreign worker is already employed on a temporary visa and seeks a permanent job, Facebook locks out any other candidates, the government said in a new complaint filed in immigration court.

“Facebook then implements a recruitment process intentionally designed to deter U.S. workers from applying,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in the complaint. “Facebook does not advertise the positions on its website, does not accept applications online, and requires candidates to mail in their applications.”

Not surprisingly, Facebook often gets zero applications for these advertised positions. And even when U.S. workers do apply, Facebook will not consider them for the advertised positions,” he said.

The Justice Department says it spent two years investigating the issue.

The social media company said it has been cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation.”

While we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation,” the company said in a statement.

The workers in question were in the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are supposed to be reserved for foreigners with exceptional skills.

Tech companies are among the largest users of H-1B visas.H-1B workers are temporary, but they can apply to convert to a permanent position and become lawful permanent residents.

The permanent Facebook jobs had an average salary of $156,000, the government said.

The Justice Department is seeking back pay on behalf of U.S. workers denied jobs and civil fines.

According to the complaint, Facebook certified to the Labor Department that it had made a good-faith recruitment effort for Americans and didn’t find any willing U.S. workers.

But of 2,606 vacancies in which Facebook sought to convert an H-1B worker to a permanent resident, the Justice Department said nobody other than the guest workers were hired.

If a U.S. worker was qualified but the only slot available was the one Facebook was trying to convert, the company would suspend the position rather than hire the American, the Justice Department said. There were at least 4,034 U.S. candidates who sought those jobs.

When Facebook did a full recruitment and advertised online it got 104 applicants per position. But for openings the company was trying to convert from guest-workers, which it didn’t advertise online, it got zero U.S. worker applications for 82% of them, and in no case did it get more than four U.S. workers applying.

In one example, Facebook sought to fill an art director’s position in September 2018, and filed an application with the Labor Department saying it had tried to find a U.S. worker, but had no takers.

But the Justice Department said the company in the previous nine months had advertised for at least 22 other art director’s positions unrelated to guest-workers. At least 2,600 applicants applied for those, and at least 288 of them were qualified but didn’t get the jobs.

Each of those applicants had better qualifications than the one the company sought to fill with the foreign worker, the government says — yet none was considered for that other position.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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