Facebook is paying over $14 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department over visa abuse and unfair hiring practices.

In December 2020, the Justice Department filed the lawsuit against the social media giant, asserting that the company “routinely refused” to recruit, consider, or hire U.S. workers in favor of giving those jobs to temporary visa holders who could be paid less.

The excluded group, according to the suit, includes U.S. citizens and nationals, people granted asylum, refugees, and lawful permanent residents. The lawsuit says that Facebook has intentionally shaped their hiring process to keep U.S. workers from learning about and applying for an unfair percentage of software jobs.

Instead, Facebook’s practice was to sponsor “green card” workers, authorizing them to live in the U.S. indefinitely, as long as they’re employed by Facebook. Critics of the practice assert that it’s inherently abusive, as green card employees risk deportation if they want to quit or seek other work. It does not put them in a position where they can negotiate fair wages.

Despite the settlement, which was announced October 19, 2021, Facebook asserts that it has followed government standards in hiring practices, and claims it agreed to the settlements to end the litigation process. Like most tech companies accused of this common violation, Facebook maintains that it hires so many foreign nationals because there is a shortage of qualified programmers and software engineers among U.S. citizens.

About $4.75 million of the settlement is a fine for hiring violations, and $9.5 million is back pay to alleged victims of these violations. Facebook is paying the largest penalty and back-pay award ever recovered by the 35-year-old civil rights division under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation’s civil rights laws,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in a telephone conference.

Facebook is also currently involved in congressional hearings about deliberately harming children through misinformation, and an antitrust suit which may result in breaking up the 63,400-employee company.

It is also worth pointing out that Facebook reported a net income of over $30.6 million per day in 2020.

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