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Facebook in more trouble for favoring foreign workers on visa

(BUSINESS NEWS) Facebook has continued to be in hot water this year – this time getting sued by the DOJ for discrimination of American workers in favor of visa workers.

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Visa employee on a laptop looking out the window.

While the latest big news on the US government vs Facebook front is the Dec. 9 antitrust suits that target the social media giant’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, just a week earlier the big news was an attack from another flank. On Dec. 3 the Department of Justice accused Facebook of discriminating against U.S. citizens in favor of hiring foreign workers on visa.

Let’s just say business groups, especially in tech, are not happy about this. The D.O.J.’s lawsuit could have a huge impact on the tech industry, which has long relied on hiring foreign workers who have temporary work visas that they can later convert to permanent visas (aka, green cards).

Here’s what you need to know.

Why did D.O.J. sue Facebook?

D.O.J. says it’s protecting American and other authorized workers against discrimination and trying to save American jobs.

According to the press release: “Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified U.S. workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs that Facebook instead sought to channel to temporary visa holders Facebook wanted to sponsor for green cards.”

What is Facebook’s response?

“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,” said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.

How did Facebook allegedly discriminate?

The D.O.J. says that, from January, 2018, to September, 2019, Facebook used special recruiting methods that in effect reserved more than 2,600 jobs for foreign workers who hold temporary work visas, mostly H-1Bs. The suit alleges that jobs were posted only in print outlets, not on Facebook’s careers website, which would cast a wider net. Also, applicants had to apply by mail, not online like for other jobs – both of which created a pool of pre-selected candidates based on immigration status.

So the allegation is that Americans couldn’t apply for jobs they didn’t know about, which let Facebook effectively game the system by meeting the legal requirements of posting jobs and saying that no or few qualified U.S. citizens applied – meaning they could keep employees who had already been working there for between 3 and 6 years.

Why is this illegal?

The D.O.J. says Facebook violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, which “prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. citizens and other work-authorized individuals
based on their citizenship status or national origin.”

What does the lawsuit ask for?

The suit asks for “civil penalties” (aka, money), back pay for U.S. workers who were denied employment because of the alleged discrimination, and changes to Facebook’s hiring procedures. (One thing that’s not clear is which U.S. workers would be included in back pay and how they would show they lost out on a job they didn’t know about.)

What’s behind the suit?

Short answer: It probably depends on your politics.

It could be part of the Trump administration’s continuing attack on immigration. It could be “techlash,” part of the Trump administration’s continuing attacks on social media giants. Or it could be the Trump administration’s fight to save jobs for Americans in a time of high unemployment, as well as to prevent companies from taking advantage of relatively cheap labor that depresses wages for U.S. citizens.

How does the work visa system work?

Most temporary work visas come through the H-1B system, but there are also H-2A, H-2B, and F-1 visas. After an employee has been in the job 3 years, the employer can ask for the temporary visa to convert to a green card, which makes the holder a permanent lawful resident. However, employers must demonstrate that they were not able to find qualified U.S. workers.

The H-1B visa program has been embroiled in an ongoing battle this year, with President Trump attempting to impose bans, caps, and new restrictions and courts knocking down those attempts. So things like how many visas are awarded, how workers are chosen, and regulations on minimum salaries and education levels designed to allow only higher-skilled workers – that all could change seemingly at any time. (Check out Investopedia for a fuller explanation of the ins and outs.)

What’s next?

Who knows? It’s wait and see on whether the new administration of President-Elect Joe Biden will address the lawsuit, although he has pledged to undo Trump’s immigration policies.

Lisa Wyatt Roe is an Austin writer and editor whose work has been featured on CNN.com/Travel, in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and in the book “Seduced by Sound: Austin; 100 Musicians on Why They Make Music.” Travel and live music feed her soul. Volunteering with refugees feeds her sense of purpose. And making friends laugh feeds her deep (yet possibly sad) need to get all the laughing emojis on Facebook.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jake leone

    December 14, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    Your readers need to understand that Facebook found hundreds of qualified Local-American applicants for much tougher tech jobs. Facebook refused to forward these better qualified Americans to the managers who were hiring the foreign workers, they did this exclusion deliberately. And that is why this is a clear case of discrimination based upon National Origin.

    Facebook lied on Federal Forms when it said it made a good faith effort, Facebook make a bad faith effort. And we know this because, facebook refused the San Francisco Chronicle’s FREE offer to post these jobs on the Chronicle website (all Facebook had to do was say “yes” instead of “no”), at the time the Chronicle was posting the jobs in print. And also, as you have pointed out, Facebook has extensive public company job board, but Facebook never put these jobs on that board.

    This FAKE/PERM process is well documented, and is quite scandalous. We need to fix the PERM process before we talk about getting rid of the diversity of the Green Card system. Mike Lee’s bill is a massive dentriment and clearly a give away to the absolutely bigoted hiring practices of companies in Silicon Valley. Fix the PERM process, and you will fix the Green Card back log very quickly, and more Americans will be able to get into a tech job. Again, Facebook had hundreds of qualified candidates, that it could not hire, into much tougher tech positions than the ones that were involved in these FAKE/PERM jobs.

    The big lie that tech companies can’t find qualified workers is fully exposed in this government indictment. Facebook was cooperating but has since gone silent. Cleary, this didn’t fully register what the implications of this massive fraud would be, otherwise I think they would not have cooperated with the government. Now that they have, it is too late. And civil lawsuits will follow.

    The process that Facebook gamed is called the PERM process. The PERM process can be redone, every 6 months, until the employers luck out (or deliberately avoid looking as is the case with FACEBOOK) and say (really lie) on Federal forms they couldn’t find an American.

    Literally, if an employer over a 10 year period, found plenty of qualified Americans to fill the foreign workers position, the employer can still refuse to hire an American. Because the foreign worker is allowed to renew their H-1b visa, indefinitely while doing the PERM process (in this case repeating the PERM process 2x a year, for 10 years).

    Meaning, that there is no actual equality in the hiring process when employers undergo PERM process for a foreign worker. The foreign worker can literally displace a better qualified American for a job on U.S. soil, forever.

    And Facebook has already been shown to do this, 2600+ times, over less than a 2-year period, covered by this investigation. Read the indictment, it’s online.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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