Report: Facebook under investigation for ‘systemic’ racial discrimination practices

‘We have a black people problem’

The United States government is reportedly investigating Facebook for racially discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government agency tasked with protecting the civil rights of employees, is leading the investigation, Reuters reported.

What are the details?

Lawyers representing Facebook operations manager Oscar Veneszee and three others who were denied jobs at the social media giant revealed the existence of the investigation.

The allegations are that Facebook discriminates against black employees and job candidates “by relying on subjective evaluations and promoting problematic racial stereotypes,” Reuters reported.

One such example of discrimination is that Facebook awards employees a $5,000 bonus if they refer a job candidate who is eventually hired. But the allegations claim that “referred candidates tend to reflect the makeup of existing employees,” which allegedly disadvantage black employees.

In fact, the EEOC is investigating whether the alleged racial bias is “systemic,” which means, according to Reuters, the government “suspects company policies may be contributing to widespread discrimination.”

More from Reuters:

The EEOC typically resolves disputes through mediation or allowing complainants to sue employers. But agency officials designate a few cases “systemic,” enabling investigators to rope in specialists to analyze company data and potentially bring a broader lawsuit representing entire classes of workers.

The EEOC brought in systemic investigators by last August and received detailed briefing papers from both sides over the last four months, said Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney at Gupta Wessler representing Veneszee and the job candidates.

Veneszee, a 23-year Navy veteran, filed a complaint with the EEOC last July.

“We have a black people problem,” Veneszee told NPR at the time. “We’ve set goals to increase diversity at the company, but we’ve failed to create a culture at the company that finds, grows and keeps black people at the company.”

What did Facebook say?

Facebook has not specifically responded to the allegations, but said “it is essential to provide all employees with a respectful and safe working environment.””We take any allegations of discrimination seriously and investigate every case,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told Reuters.

Anything else?

Technology giants like Facebook and Google are no stranger to allegations of discrimination.

Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, agreed last month to pay nearly $4 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against women and Asian employees.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Facebook in December over allegations the company had discriminated against American workers.

“The Department of Justice’s lawsuit alleges that Facebook engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified U.S. workers,” then-Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said.