On October 19th, 2021, the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Justice (DOJ) announced separate settlement agreements involving Facebook discrimination claims. Specifically, the agreements involved the company’s use of the federal permanent labor certification program, also known as PERM. Earlier, in October 2021, the DOL announced levying citations on a business for purposely allowing COVID-19 exposure. Comparatively, in July, the DOJ and other federal agencies created new guidance recognizing “long COVID” as a disability.

Overview of Facebook Discrimination Claims

Markedly, the DOJ’s settlement resolves its claims that Facebook routinely refused to recruit, consider, or hire U.S. workers. For the most part, that includes U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees, and lawful permanent residents. Generally, Facebook did not hire the individuals for positions reserved for temporary visa holders in connection with the PERM process. Accordingly, the DOL’s settlement resolves issues separately, identified through audit examinations of Facebook’s recruitment activities related to PERM applications. For this purpose, Facebook filed the applications with the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Specifically, the company submitted applications to the ETA’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification.

Background of Facebook Discrimination Claims

In brief, the DOJ filed a lawsuit in December 2020 against Facebook. Significantly, the suit alleged that the company reserved jobs for temporary visa holders from January 1st, 2018, to September 18th, 2019. After that, the company used recruiting methods designed to deter U.S. workers from applying to specific positions. For example, those methods include:

  • requiring that applicants submit applications by mail only;
  • refusing to consider U.S. workers who applied to the positions; and
  • hiring only temporary visa holders.

The lawsuit also alleges Facebook’s hiring process intentionally discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or immigration status. This is a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA generally prohibits employers from discriminating against workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.

Subsequently, in early 2021, the DOL audited Facebook’s pending PERM applications to determine compliance with regulatory requirements. As a result, the agency identified potential regulatory recruitment violations and sought additional information from the company.

Case Settlement

To conclude, under the DOJ’s suit, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the United States. The company will also pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of the Facebook discrimination claims. Lastly, Facebook will train its employees on the INA’s anti-discrimination requirements. In addition, Facebook must conduct more extensive advertising and recruitment for PERM position job opportunities. Also, the company must accept electronic resumes or applications from all U.S. workers who apply for PERM positions.