The United States Justice Department on Thursday sued Facebook, accusing the social media company of discriminating against American workers and preferring temporary workers, including those who have H-1B visas, Reuters reported.

In a new lawsuit, the Donald Trump administration claimed that Facebook had “refused” to recruit, consider or employ qualified American workers for over 2,600 jobs, which in many cases paid an average salary of $1,56,000 a year. The technology giant, the lawsuit said, preferred to offer the jobs to foreign workers on H-1B visas.

“Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs,” the Justice Department added. “The social media company instead sought to channel such jobs to temporary visa holders it wanted to sponsor for green cards or permanent residency.”

Facebook spokesperson Daniel Roberts said the company has been cooperating with the Justice Department to review the matter. “While we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation,” he added.

Trump’s H-1B visa crackdown

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is highly sought-after by Indian IT professionals. However, critics have said that the laws governing these visas are lax, making it easier to replace US workers with cheaper, foreign labour. Outgoing US President Donald Trump has often sought to restrict H-1B visa programs, alleging displacement of American workers.

On December 1, a federal court in California had blocked two rules related to the H-1B visa, introduced by the Trump administration to limit the number of visas granted to skilled foreign workers.

The changes to the H-1B visa programme were announced in October. It narrowed the eligibility criteria for applicants and raised the wages American companies would have to pay to hire foreign workers. The changes introduced by the US Departments of Labor and Homeland Security also shortened the length of visas for certain contract workers.

On October 1, a federal judge in San Francisco had blocked Trump from enforcing a temporary ban on a large number of work permits, including the H-1B visa. Trump had on June 22 signed an executive order to suspend several categories of foreign work visas till the end of 2020.

US President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign has, however, said that they would increase the number of high-skilled visas, including the H-1B, and eliminate the limit on employment-based visas by the country.