Facebook has agreed to settle civil lawsuits worth up to $14.25 million filed by the U.S. government alleging misconduct that the social media giant discriminates against American workers and violates federal recruitment regulations, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The two settlements were published by the Justice and Labor Departments and confirmed by Facebook.
Last December, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that Facebook granted hiring preferences to temporary workers, including those with H-1B visas, which allow companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in a range of occupations.
Kristen Clarke, assistant U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the deal with Facebook is historic.
“It represents by far the largest civil penalty the Civil Rights Division has ever recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision,” Clarke said in a conference call with reporters, referring to a U.S. immigration law that prohibits discrimination against workers based on their citizenship or immigration status.
The case focused on Facebook’s use of the so-called permanent labor certification, called the PERM program.
The U.S. government said the social media giant refused to hire American workers for jobs reserved for temporary visa holders under the PERM program and accused Facebook of “potential regulatory recruitment violations.”
Facebook will pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million, plus up to $9.5 million for victims of discriminatory hiring practices, the government said.
The settlements come at a time when the tech giant is facing increasing scrutiny from the U.S. government over other business practices, with the company vehemently denying any wrongdoing.
Earlier this year, the Labor Department conducted audits of Facebook’s pending PERM applications and found more details about the social media giant’s recruitment efforts.
“Facebook is not above the law,” U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said to reporters, adding that the Labor Department is “committed to ensuring that the PERM process is not misused by employers – regardless of their size and reach.”