Dec 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department accused
Facebook Inc on Thursday of discriminating against U.S.
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 U.S. workers for more than
2,600 jobs that in many cases paid an average salary of $156,000
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 U.S. 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 U.S. workers with cheaper, foreign labor.
The Facebook lawsuit is the latest example of the Trump
administration clashing with Silicon Valley over attempts to
restrict immigration for foreign workers. Trump and Republican
lawmakers have also clashed with the company in other areas,
such as accusing the platform of stifling conservative voices.
The Justice and Labor departments have both investigated big
tech companies in the past over allegations similar to those
against Facebook, but they have rarely brought charges due to
loopholes in the law.
Tech companies and industry groups have pushed back against
moves to limit immigration of foreign workers by saying there
are not enough American students graduating with science and
engineering degrees to meet the demand for filling jobs in areas
such as artificial intelligence.
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 U.S. workers.
Among the top 30 H-1B employers are major U.S. firms
including Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart,
Alphabet's Google, Apple, and Facebook,
according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in
The EPI report said most companies using H1B visas take
advantage of program rules in order to legally pay such workers
below the local median wage for the jobs they fill.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Nandita Bose in Washington and
Katie Paul in San Francisco
Editing by Edward Tobin and Rosalba O'Brien)