Justice Department lawsuit accuses Facebook of discriminating against US workers

Facebook “refused” to recruit, consider or hire qualified US workers for more than 2,600 jobs, the lawsuit says. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Justice Department accused Facebook on Thursday (Dec 3) of discriminating against US workers, saying in a new lawsuit the social media giant has given hiring preferences to temporary workers, including those who hold H-1B visas.

The Justice Department said that Facebook had "refused" to recruit, consider or hire qualified US workers for more than 2,600 jobs that in many cases paid an average salary of US$156,000 (S$208,000) a year.

Instead, it opted to fill the positions using temporary visa holders, such as those with H-1B visas, the department added.

"Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs," the Justice Department said.

The social media company instead sought to channel such jobs to temporary visa holders it wanted to sponsor for green cards or permanent residency, it added.

Company spokesman Daniel Roberts said: "Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation."

H-1B visas are often used by the technology sector to bring highly skilled foreign guest workers to the United States.

But critics say the laws governing these visas are lax, and make it too easy to replace US workers with cheaper, foreign labour.

The lawsuit is the latest example of the Trump administration clashing with Silicon Valley over attempts to restrict immigration for foreign workers.

In June, Trump issued a presidential proclamation that temporarily blocked foreign workers entering on H-1B visas - an attempt the administration then said would open up 525,000 jobs for US workers.

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