Trump administration sues Facebook over alleged favoritism for immigrant workers

© Erin Schaff/Pool/Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

(CNN)The Trump administration sued Facebook on Thursday for allegedly passing over US job candidates for thousands of positions in favor of immigrant workers holding temporary visas.

The suit by the Justice Department claims that from 2018 through September 2019, Facebook discriminated against US workers by reserving job openings for temporary workers including H-1B visa holders.

In a statement, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said: “Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation.”

The complaint follows a two-year investigation by the DOJ, according to an agency release. The Trump administration seeks civil penalties against Facebook as well as back pay for what the DOJ says is owed to US workers who were denied employment at Facebook.

“Our message to workers is clear,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, in a statement. “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 complaint was filed before administrative law judges at the Executive Office for Immigration, a branch of the Justice Department. The department’s Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer routinely handles cases involving immigration employment practices.