The Trump administration has sued Facebook, accusing it of discriminating against American workers by favoring immigrant applicants for thousands of high-paying jobs.
The Department of Justice's lawsuit opens a new front in the administration's push against tech companies -- and in its clampdown on immigration -- as President Donald Trump enters his final weeks in office.
The suit concerns more than 2,600 positions with an average salary of some $156,000, offered from January 2018 to September 2019, reported NDTV.
"Facebook engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified US workers," assistant attorney general Eric Dreiband, of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said in a statement outlining the department's allegations.
The internet giant reserved positions for candidates with H1-B "skilled worker" visas or other temporary work visas, the department said.
Facebook "channeled" jobs to visa holders by avoiding advertising on its careers website, accepting only physically mailed applications for some posts, or refusing to consider US workers at all, according to the suit.
The unusual move to file a lawsuit -- with the Justice Department pivoting suddenly away from simply discussing their concerns with Facebook -- could be seen as a rush to hit the courts before Trump leaves the White House in January.
The California-based social network planned to continue cooperating with the department as the case plays out.
The lawsuit was filed just two days after a US federal judge blocked rule changes ordered by Trump that made it harder for people outside the country to get skilled-worker visas.
The US Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council in Facebook's home state of California and others had sued the Department of Homeland Security arguing that the changes rushed new restrictions through without a proper public review process.
Skilled-worker visas are precious to Silicon Valley tech firms hungry for engineers and other highly-trained talent, with Asia home to many keenly sought workers.
US District Court Judge Jeffrey White granted a motion to set aside two rules by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security that would have compelled companies to pay H1-B visa workers higher wages and restricted job types that qualify for the visas.
The Trump administration had cited the Covid-19 pandemic and its toll on the economy as reasons for skipping the required public notice and review processes for their new rules, according to court documents.