(Reuters) – A Black Facebook Inc worker on Thursday filed a complaint claiming the social media giant’s stated commitment to diversity and civil rights, including its support for the Black Lives Matter movement, masks widespread discrimination against Black workers.
FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Illustration/File Photo
Oscar Veneszee, a Washington D.C.-based operations program manager, said in a charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Facebook has shown a pattern of discrimination in hiring, performance evaluations, promotions and pay, and that Black workers fill just 1.5% of its technical positions.
“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,” Veneszee said in the complaint.
Veneszee was joined by two Black professionals who said they had applied for various jobs with Facebook but were never hired despite being qualified for the positions. The workers are represented by Peter Romer-Friedman of Gupta Wessler.
Menlo Park, California-based Facebook in a statement provided by a spokesman said, “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.”
The EEOC investigates charges of discrimination and can give workers permission to sue their employers or file its own lawsuits. Veneszee’s lawyers said the charge was designed to cover nationwide classes of Black Facebook employees and job applicants.
According to the complaint, Black workers currently represent 3.8% of Facebook’s total workforce. That number has barely increased as Facebook has grown from having 9,000 employees in 2014 to about 45,000 today, according to the filing.
Veneszee, a 46-year-old Navy veteran, has worked at Facebook since 2017 and focuses on collaborations with the military and veterans organizations, according to the complaint. Despite significant accomplishments in that role, Veneszee said, he has not been fairly evaluated or promoted.
He said Facebook relies heavily on recommendations from its overwhelmingly white and Asian-American managers in awarding promotions. And in both promotions and hiring, the company selects candidates based on those managers’ subjective beliefs about their “cultural fit,” Veneszee said.
Veneszee and the two job applicants accused Facebook of race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and comparable Washington, D.C., and California laws.