In a last, litigious middle finger to Facebook on their way out the door, Trump's Justice Department is suing the social media giant over what it found to be a pattern of favoritism toward temporary immigrant workers over Americans in its hiring practices.
President Trump has frequently railed against the tech industry's hiring of H1-B visa-holders — immigrants often with tech expertise who are hired ostensibly for skills that can't as easily be found among the American workforce. And this new complaint from the DoJ's civil rights division, as the New York Times reports, alleges that Facebook overlooked qualified Americans in favor of immigrants for 2,600 roles with an average salary of $156,000.
In a statement Thursday, Eric S. Dreiband, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said, "Our message to workers is clear: If companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable. Our message to all employers — including those in the technology sector — is clear: You cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers."
The new legal filing comes the same week that a federal judge in a Northern California district court threw out two new rules that had been put forward by the Trump administration that were meant to narrow eligibility requirements for H1-B visa seekers. The new rules would have required H1-B visa seekers — some 70% of whom come from India, according to the Hindustan Times — to hold a higher degree than just a bachelor's equivalent for jobs in computer engineering and the like, and they would have required companies to pay equal salaries as they would to an American worker.
Facebook responded to the latest lawsuit saying, via spokesperson Andy Stone, "Facebook has been cooperating with the D.O.J. in its review of this issue, and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation."
The complaint alleges that Facebook declined to advertise certain jobs on its Facebook.com/careers page, which is most visible to American workers, instead choosing to advertise them directly to immigrants. And it claims that temporary immigrant workers were put on a track to permanent employment that wasn't available to U.S. workers.
While it's been clear that Congress is likely to crack down on tech companies including Facebook and Google over privacy issues and potentially antitrust issues — and the Justice Department has already filed an antitrust suit against Google — today's suit is more out of left field.
And an immigration and labor lawyer tells the Times, "The trickle-down effect of this action could impact even smaller employers that hire only a handful of foreign workers."