Facebook settled anti-citizen employment discrimination charges with the government this week, having to pay no more than $14.25 million, a mere slap on the wrist for the multi-billion-dollar firm, according to a report by Law360.
The firm, which is listed by myvisajobs.com as the twelfth-largest user of temporary workers in the nation, had been charged by a unit of the Justice Department with discriminating against U.S. workers when filling some 2,600 jobs with its own former H-1B workers rather than U.S. citizen or green card applicants.
This was not a judge’s order. Both Facebook and the Biden administration (to its shame) agreed voluntarily to the settlement. The suit was brought by the previous administration, which might well have settled for a higher figure, perhaps a much higher figure. After all, it was during the Trump administration that the Federal Trade Commission laid down a $5 billion fine on Facebook for different and non-immigration-related charges (for abusing consumer data).
This week’s charges did not relate directly to Facebook’s massive use of H-1B temporary workers; they related to moves that the firm made when it graduated former H-1B workers to green card status, and for brushing aside equally talented citizen workers for these 2,600 jobs.
The firm, according to Law360, made the hiring process harder for citizens than for Facebook’s own H-1B workers, requiring the citizens, for example, to file hard copy documents when it allowed the H-1Bs to file online. (I have some difficulty believing that any employer, in this day and age, would do something so blatant, but that’s what happened.)
These were significant jobs lost by citizen workers; the average pay is $156,000 a year.
Facebook agreed to a federal fine of $4.75 million and to set up a fund of $9.5 million to pay damages to citizens and green card holders denied the jobs. It was one of those settlements in which the offending employer denies any wrong-doing, but promises to behave better in the future.
Full disclosure: The author sold Facebook stock short days before this story broke.