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Facebook will pay more than $14 million in settlement with DOJ for discriminating against US workers

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Facebook will pay more than $14 million in penalties in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice after the federal government accused the Big Tech company of discriminating against U.S. workers in favor of foreigners, the agency said Tuesday.

In a separate settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, the company promised to do more to recruit Americans and agreed to submit to ongoing audits to ensure compliance with federal regulations.

These settlements come after the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Facebook in December 2020 alleging that the company "engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified U.S. workers." The government said Facebook had failed to properly advertise at least 2,600 open jobs and did not consider applications from U.S. citizens before offering those positions to foreign workers whom the company had sponsored for green cards between 2018 and 2019.

Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their citizenship or immigration status. And under DOL regulations, would-be employers must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available before they offer jobs to foreign workers they sponsor for temporary visa applications.

After an investigation found that Facebook's hiring practices violated the law, the company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the U.S. government and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of its alleged discrimination. Officials said the civil penalty and back pay fund "represent the largest fine and monetary award that the Division ever has recovered in the 35-year history of the [Immigration and Naturalization Act]'s anti-discrimination provision."

"Facebook is not above the law, and must comply with our nation's federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said. "Companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status. This settlement reflects the Civil Rights Division's commitment to holding employers accountable and eradicating discriminatory employment practices."

Officials said Facebook will also train staff on federal anti-discrimination requirements. Over the next three years, the company's applications for temporary visa holders will be regularly audited by the Labor Department to check for compliance with the federal government's permanent labor certification program.

"This settlement is an important step forward and means that U.S. workers will have a fair chance to learn about and apply for Facebook's job opportunities," added Department of Labor Solicitor Seema Nanda. "No matter an employer's size or reach, the Department of Labor is committed to vigorously enforcing the law."

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