A Facebook recruiter filed a federal complaint alleging the company is biased against Black employees and job candidates

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


  • A Facebook recruiter and two rejected job applicants filed a complaint Thursday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the company of discriminating against Black workers, as first reported by The Washington Post.

  • The three workers, all of whom are Black, alleged that Facebook has a pattern of "racial discrimination in hiring, evaluations, promotions, and pay" for Black employees and job applicants.

  • "There may be Black Lives Matter posters on Facebook's walls, but Black workers don't see that phrase reflecting how they are treated in Facebook's own workplace," the complaint says.

  • Facebook has faced accusations about racism within its walls previously, including from a Black former executive, anonymous Black employees, and other Black recruiters.

  • The company is also facing growing pressure from employees, civil rights groups, and more than 500 advertisers to take a stronger stance on moderating hate speech on its platform.

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A Facebook hiring manager and two job applicants he tried to recruit filed a complaint against the company on Thursday accusing it of discriminating against Black workers, as first reported by The Washington Post.

The complaint, which was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleges that Facebook "has had and continues to have a general policy of discrimination against Black applicants and workers, including in hiring, evaluations, promotions, and pay."

"Facebook's deeds have not matched its rhetoric," the complaint says, adding that people of color at the company, especially Black workers, are underrepresented, don't feel respected or heard, and don't have an equal opportunity to advance.

"There may be Black Lives Matter posters on Facebook's walls, but Black workers don't see that phrase reflecting how they are treated in Facebook's own workplace," it says.

Oscar Veneszee Jr., a recruiter for Facebook's infrastructure team and Black US Navy veteran who focuses on helping the company recruit other people of color and veterans, and who brought the complaint, said that he has struggled to get fair performance evaluations or raises, and frequently experiences racism on the job.

Howard Winns Jr. and Jazsmin Smith, two applicants recruited by Veneszee, also joined the complaint, alleging that they were rejected for positions despite being "well-qualified" and having recommendations from a current Facebook employee.

"Facebook can and must do a far better job recruiting, hiring, promoting, and retaining Black workers. It's time to close the gap between Facebook's words and deeds on the issue of diversity," Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney at Gupta Wessler who represents the workers, said in a statement.

"We believe 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 spokesperson Pamela Austin told Business Insider in a statement.

The complaint takes aim at a wide range of Facebook policies, cultural issues, and lack of diversity, and comes at a time when the company is under intense pressure from outside critics as well as within its walls to take stronger actions to combat systemic racism.

The lack of diversity among Silicon Valley tech companies is widespread and not limited to Facebook. At Apple, just 3% of the company's top leaders were African-American in 2018, the year of its most recent public demographics report. Latinos represented 7% of Apple's leadership. At Google-parent Alphabet, Blacks and Latinos accounted for 2.6% and 3.7%, respectively, of its leadership ranks in the company's most recent report.

Culture fit and secret forums

The Facebook complaint criticizes a number of Facebook's hiring practices — many of which are common throughout the tech industry — such as "culture fit" and a preference for referrals. It alleges that these practices, given Facebook's "overwhelmingly white and Asian-American workforce," adversely affect Black applicants.

The complaint also calls out the company for forcing employees to raise racial discrimination and harassment claims via a "secret forum where all rulings are 'confidential and not available to the public.'"

Similar arbitration requirements around sexual harassment claims faced pushback during the #MeToo movement and have since been abandoned by many tech companies.

This is hardly the first time Facebook has been accused by employees of discrimination within the workplace. In late 2018,  former Facebook employee Mark Luckie wrote that the company had failed to build an inclusive work environment and deal with racism, saying that: "Facebook has a black people problem."

A year later, anonymous Black employees circulated a memo saying those problems had only gotten worse, writing: "Facebook still has a black people problem."

Earlier this year, another diversity-focused recruiter at Facebook sued the company for $100 million, also alleging racial discrimination.

The social media giant is also facing a growing chorus of critics who say it needs to do more to combat racism and hate speech on its platform as well. After CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision not to take action on controversial posts by President Donald Trump, employees at Facebook as well as Zuckerberg's philanthropic initiative revolted.

Last month, civil rights groups including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Color of Change called for advertisers to boycott Facebook, and more than 500 companies, including major brands such as Coca-Cola, Ford, Starbucks, Verizon, Adidas, and Unilever, have signed on.

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