The suit alleges that Facebook "routinely refused" to consider or recruit "available and qualified" U.S. workers in 2018 and 2019 for the aforementioned roles. The positions were instead reserved for H-1B and other temporary visa holders that the technology company sponsored for permanent residence. In addition, the suit mentioned that Facebook discriminated against American applicants by failing to advertise vacancies it intended for immigrant workers on its career website – saying that it only accepted physical mail applications. The company's application process is typically online.
"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," the complaint said.
The Justice Department said in a Dec. 3 statement that the Department of Labor permits employers to offer permanent positions to temporary visa holders by making them lawful permanent residents. However, an employer who wishes to do so must first prove that there are no qualified and available U.S. workers for the job it intends to offer to the temporary visa holder. Furthermore, the statement added that the technology giant's discriminatory treatment of American workers was "intentional" and "widespread," and violated a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
According to the DOJ, the INA "protects U.S. citizens [and] nationals, refugees, asylees and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee." However, workers outside these categories are not eligible for INA protection against discrimination.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company was working with the DOJ, and added: "While we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation." Lawsuits such as the one filed by the DOJ put the government at odds with Silicon Valley and Big Tech companies, who rely on H-1B visas to hire professionals from other nations.
The suit also follows the Trump administration's efforts to help U.S. citizens find jobs amid rising unemployment triggered by the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in June stopping applications for new H-1B and H4 visas. H4 visas allow the spouses of H-1B visa holders to live and, to a limited extent, work in the U.S. Trump also banned green card applications until the end of 2020 and suspended a range of "guest worker" visas for a wide range of professions.
"The entry of additional workers through ... non-immigrant visa programmes, therefore, presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak," Trump said. (Related: While tech companies demand amnesty for cheap workers, they are laying off tens of thousands of U.S. employees.)
Companies usually hire H-1B visa holders as they do the same amount of work as qualified U.S. citizens at the fraction of the salary usually paid to locals.
Back in 2015, The Daily Caller reported on Disney's practice of hiring immigrant temporary visa holders for information technology positions, to be trained by qualified U.S. professionals. The American professionals are essentially forced to train their replacements: Once the foreign immigrant masters the job, their trainer gets laid off and "blacklisted."
One former employee contacted by the conservative website only found out about the blacklist after being informed that they were no longer considered for a position after being retrenched by the media giant.