Facebook undergoing investigation for systemic racial bias in hiring, promotions

Last updated on Mar 07, 2021, 03:13 pm
Facebook undergoing investigation for systemic racial bias in hiring, promotions

A US agency investigating Facebook Inc. for racially biased hiring and promotions has classified its probe as "systemic." This means it suspects the company policies may be a cause of widespread discrimination. Attorneys for three job applicants and a manager at Facebook informed Reuters of the developments on Friday. This news follows a recent lawsuit suing Amazon for similar practices.

Systemic classification

Investigators analyze company policies in cases classified as systemic

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) typically mediates disputes or allows complainants to sue the employer. However, when it classifies a case as "systemic," it brings in investigators to analyze company policies. This eventually leads to broader lawsuits representing entire classes of employees. In this case, Oscar Veneszee Jr., an operations program manager at Facebook, and two applicants denied employment approached EEOC last July.

Promoting stereotype

Facebook allegedly discriminated against Black employees and applicants

Reuters reports that the complainants were joined by a third rejected applicant in December. They allege that Facebook discriminates against Black candidates and employees by relying on subjective evaluations and promoting racial stereotypes. The EEOC brought in systemic investigators in August last year, but the designation of the probe was not previously specified. Meanwhile, the Commission has declined to comment on the matter.

Complainant's points

Facebook referral policy puts Black professionals at a disadvantage

An attorney at public interest law firm Gupta Wessler representing the complainants said EEOC has been receiving briefing papers from both sides since November. The EEOC was made aware of a referral policy that awarded employees up to $5,000 per hire. This disadvantages Black professionals, the attorney added. Employment law firms Mehri & Skalet and Katz Marshall & Banks are also assisting the workers.

Facebook's response

Facebook said it takes allegations of discrimination very seriously

Meanwhile, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone declined to comment on the probe but said that it is essential to provide all employees a respectful and safe working environment. He added that the company takes allegations of discrimination very seriously and investigates every case. Big Tech has, at times, also cited the lack of qualified candidates from underrepresented groups.

No comment

EEOC hasn't yet leveled allegations against Facebook

Former EEOC general counsel David Lopez (pictured) said systemic investigations are significant because of the additional resources involved. He added that allegations sometimes result in multi-million dollar settlements. EEOC hasn't yet leveled allegations against the social media giant. Reuters speculates that the investigation into the systemic angle could take months more. Facebook's counsel Covington & Burling did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.

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