Facebook Inc. has reached a settlement with the U.S. government over allegations that it discriminated against domestic workers by reserving thousands of positions for foreigners with temporary H-1B visas.
Facebook agreed to pay as much as $14.3 million in separate settlement agreements with the Justice and Labor Departments, the government said Tuesday.
“Facebook is not above the law, and must comply with our nation’s federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discriminatory recruitment and hiring practices,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Facebook effectively discouraged Americans from applying for certain positions in the Menlo Park, California-based company, saving those for foreign holders of H-1B visas, the Justice and Labor Department officials said during a briefing with reporters.
The social media company agreed to a penalty of $4.75 million and to make another another $9.5 million available to victims of the company’s discrimination, the Justice Department said. “This settlement reflects the civil rights division’s commitment to holding employers accountable,” said Clarke.
The company’s shares rose 1.3% to $339.74 at 3:08 p.m. in New York.
Facebook said in an emailed statement that while the company believes it met the government’s standards for labor certification practices, it reached the settlements to allow it to move forward with its overall immigration program and support its highly-skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence.
Facebook is under pressure on multiple fronts, especially after a former employee, Frances Haugen, shared thousands of pages of internal research and documents with the media and testified before Congress. She alleges the company prioritized profit while stoking division, undermining democracy and harming the mental-health of its youngest users.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal published some of the internal research provided by Haugen, who testified on Oct. 5 before a panel of the Senate Commerce Committee. At the hearing, she slammed Facebook for not prioritizing the well-being of its users. The company’s founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, denied the characterization, saying it was “just not true.”
The company is also contending with a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission alleging the company has violated anti-monopoly laws and seeking to unwind its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
The Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against Facebook in December, saying the company “refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for over 2,600 positions” and instead reserved the jobs — with an average salary of $156,000 — to non-citizens that it sponsored for permanent work authorizations with green cards.