On October 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Labor announced separate settlement agreements with Facebook regarding its use of the permanent labor certification program (PERM). The Justice Department’s settlement resolves its claims that Facebook routinely refused to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers, a group that includes U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, asylees, refugees, and lawful permanent residents, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa holders in connection with the PERM process. Additionally, the Labor Department’s settlement resolves issues it separately identified through audit examinations of Facebook’s recruitment activities related to its PERM applications filed with the Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC).
In December 2020, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that from at least Jan. 1, 2018, until at least Sept. 18, 2019, Facebook routinely reserved jobs for temporary visa holders through the PERM process. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that, in contrast to its standard recruitment practices, Facebook used recruiting methods designed to deter U.S. workers from applying to certain positions, such as requiring applications to be submitted by mail only; refused to consider U.S. workers who applied to the positions; and hired only temporary visa holders. According to the lawsuit, Facebook’s hiring process for these positions intentionally discriminated against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or immigration status, in 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.
In early 2021, the Labor Department initiated audit examinations of Facebook’s pending PERM applications to determine compliance with regulatory requirements. As a result of these audits, OFLC identified potential regulatory recruitment violations and sought additional information from Facebook in an effort to confirm that Facebook followed all applicable regulatory requirements regarding the posting and advertisement requirements for these positions.
Under the DOJ settlement, Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the United States, pay up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination, and train its employees on the anti-discrimination requirements of the INA. In addition, Facebook will be required to conduct more expansive advertising and recruitment for its job opportunities for all PERM positions, accept electronic resumes or applications from all U.S. workers who apply, and take other steps to ensure that its recruitment for PERM positions closely matches its standard recruitment practices. Today’s civil penalty and backpay fund represent the largest fine and monetary award that the Division ever has recovered in the 35-year history of the INA’s anti-discrimination provision.
“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. “Companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status. This settlement reflects the Civil Rights Division’s commitment to holding employers accountable and eradicating discriminatory employment practices.”
Under the DOL OFLC settlement, Facebook will conduct additional notice and recruitment for U.S. workers and will be subject to ongoing audits to ensure its compliance with applicable regulations.
“This settlement is an important step forward and means that U.S. workers will have a fair chance to learn about and apply for Facebook’s job opportunities,” said Seema Nanda, Solicitor at the Department of Labor. “No matter an employer’s size or reach, the Department of Labor is committed to vigorously enforcing the law.”
The Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA. The statute prohibits citizenship or immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment, or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.
Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, can file a charge. The public also can contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email [email protected]; sign up for a free webinar, or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.
The Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) provides national leadership and policy guidance to carry out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Labor under the INA, as amended, concerning the admission of foreign workers to the United States for employment.
A permanent labor certification allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. In most instances, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain a certified labor certification application from OFLC. The Secretary of Labor must certify to the USCIS that there are not sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified, and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Suspected violations relating to the PERM labor certification process can be promptly referred to OFLC at [email protected].