The Trump administration is suing Facebook over allegations that the tech giant discriminated against U.S. workers by creating recruitment processes that favored foreigners with special visas to fill more than 2,600 high-paying jobs.  The complaint alleges that Facebook created a separate hiring process for certain temporary immigration status holders, such as H-1B visa holders 

The Justice Department announced the suit Thursday, alleging that the tech giant refused to recruit, consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for the positions that the social medial giant reserved for temporary visa holders.  The positions at issue offered an average salary of around $156,000. The department is seeking unspecified civil penalties and back pay on behalf of U.S. workers denied employment.

The complaint is the Trump administration’s latest action targeting a big tech company.  It follows a nearly two-year investigation and targets hiring practices between Jan. 1, 2018 and Sept. 18, 2019.   The complaint also alleges that when certain employees holding temporary immigration status at Facebook ask the company for permanent positions through the permanent labor certification process, the tech giant “creates a permanent position that is only open to that temporary visa holder.”

 “Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified U.S. workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs” that it instead sought to channel to temporary visa holders, the Justice Department said in a news release.  The process differs from Facebook’s general practices, according to the complaint.

“Our message to workers is clear: if companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable.  Our message to all employers – including those in the technology sector – is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers,” Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that “while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation.”  The spokesperson also said that Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue.

The suit is the latest legal battle facing Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a group of states are separately planning antitrust suits against Facebook, targeting the tech giant’s acquisition of smaller apps Instagram and WhatsApp.

The FTC and state attorneys general are reportedly expected to announce plans for legal action soon.

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