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Facebook settles with Justice Department in hiring discrimination suit

The social network was accused of favoring H-1B visa workers over US workers for high-paying jobs.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook has agreed to pay a $4.75 million penalty and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims to settle a lawsuit from the Department of Justice that accused the social media giant of discriminating against US workers in favor of immigrant workers with temporary work visas for high-paying jobs.

The department's civil rights division alleged that Facebook "routinely refused" to recruit, consider or hire US workers. As part of the settlement, Facebook has also agreed to train employees on anti-discrimination rules and to "conduct more expansive advertising and recruitment" for jobs in its permanent labor certification program, said the Justice Department on Tuesday.

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The lawsuit was filed in December 2020 amid the Trump administration's increased scrutiny of a temporary work visa, known as the H-1B visa, used by tech companies to hire highly skilled immigrant workers. The suit accused Facebook of illegally setting aside thousands of high-paying positions for temporary visa holders as the company applied to sponsor the workers for permanent residency.

Facebook also settled a separate suit with the Labor Department on Tuesday related to its recruitment practices. The social network agreed to expand its recruitment for US workers and will be subject to "ongoing audits" to ensure compliance.

The company said it believes it has met the federal government's standards but reached agreements to end the litigation. 

"These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the US and around the world, and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence," said Facebook spokesperson Sona Iliffe-Moon in an emailed statement on Tuesday.