Staffing Legal News: Facebook Gets Wrist Slap for Discriminating Against US Tech Workers

Obscure foreign worker program highlighted.

Recent headlines suggest that Facebook was fined $14,000,000 by the Justice Department for discriminating against US workers in its tech worker hiring practices, but the fact is the fine was only $4.75 million, a pittance for FB, with the balance representing potential payments of up to $9.5 million “to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination.” Good luck finding individuals who can prove (or even know) that they were not hired because of Facebook’s unlawful practices.

In any event, here’s what happened: Since 2005 the Department of Labor has maintained a program, sometimes referred to as PERM, which allows a US employer to obtain a certification that permits the employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. Link: Permanent Labor Certification | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov). The program is supposed to have procedures to protect American workers, but Facebook was accused of using various techniques to circumvent these protections. Many of the permanently hired workers were previously here on temporary visas. They were certainly almost all tech workers of the type usually supplied by staffing firms.

Staffing industry impact? One wonders how many of these workers were previously employed by, or subcontracted to, staffing firms, and how many other Big Tech players are utilizing the PERM program, legally or illegally, to mine the pool of H-1B workers normally supplied through staffing firms. We likely will never know, but it is good see the federal authorities taking actions that both help US workers and also have a positive impact on the technical staffing industry.