The EEOC indictment was filed Thursday by Oscar Veneszee, Jr., who is a current Black Facebook employee and two black experts named Howard Winns, Jr. And Jazsmin Smith, who claim they were denied multiple jobs in the company for which they were qualified.
“People of color and black workers remain underrepresented at all levels of Facebook, especially at the management and leadership levels. They don’t feel respected or listened to. And they don’t believe black workers have an equal opportunity to advance in their careers on Facebook. They can be on Facebook walls posters Black Lives Matter, but Black workers do not see that phrase reflecting how their workplace is being treated, ”the indictment alleges.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Like other Silicon Valley technology companies, Facebook has struggled with diversity in its ranks. In 2014, when the company first published diversity figures, Facebook’s workforce in the U.S. was 2% black. Five years later, it was still only 3.8% black. (Facebook has not yet released its 2020 Diversity Report.) At the end of March, Facebook had 48,268 employees globally, with a significant share in the United States.
On Thursday, the accusation of discrimination in employment states that it is also on behalf of other undeclared workers who are employed on Facebook or who have applied and been rejected for a job on Facebook or other employment opportunities due to racial discrimination. The three complainants ask the EEOC to investigate.
The EEOC benefit is the first in the employment discrimination procedure. This does not automatically mean that it is a company that deals with discrimination. The EEOC has the power to investigate whether there is justifiable reason to believe that discrimination has occurred, according to the agency’s website. Often times an organization is billed with a fee through mediation or settlement. If the EEOC cannot establish that discrimination has taken place, the applicant may bring an action.
The prosecution on Thursday claims that Facebook has policies, patterns or procedures that negatively affect the capabilities of Montenegrin workers and applicants. Among the structural issues are Facebook’s alleged practice of using peer reviews of the predominantly white and Asian-American workforce and its “failure” to assess workers by different groups of employees and managers. The prosecution also says Facebook requires employees to arbitrate all racial discrimination and harassment allegations in a secret forum where all verdicts are “confidential and not available to the public.” It is unclear whether Veneszee submitted any requests in a secret forum.
The risk is that the employee initiates such compensation while still working in the company. But as protests over racial equality spread across the United States after the death of George Floyd, Veneszee decided it was the right time to act. “This is the time when I feel like saying something. It’s my responsibility to do it,” he said. “There are so many risks. I asked myself. This is a difficult decision, but I think it’s the right one.”
Veneszee, who is a Navy veteran and joined Facebook in 2017, supports veterans ’initiatives within the company’s infrastructure department and helps gather people of color into its data centers. According to the complaint, he reportedly heard colleagues use the N-word in the workplace, was criticized for providing constructive thinking about diversity recruitment plans, and never received a grade higher than “Meets All Expectations” nor received a promotion despite Venesze’s belief that he exceeded expectations. and was praised by his manager. He also said Black’s manager did not examine him.
In an interview with CNN Business, Veneszee recalled a meeting with a white recruit to discuss an intern recruitment plan. Veneszee said he asked him why the recruit enumerated only one black college or university on her plan. “She felt like I was attacking her,” Veneszee said. “I received a call from my manager asking me what happened, what I told her.” He was then allegedly asked to smooth over the situation and apologize to the recruit. “I don’t see why the word HBCU or Black would offend anyone,” Veneszee said, noting that he doesn’t believe he asked the question in an aggressive way.
Veneszee said he tried to take several steps internally to raise awareness on a variety of issues, including sharing his thoughts on internal Facebook forums. In an internal announcement, he wrote that Black employees are not satisfied with the infrastructure department. HR contacted him around the post and invited him to discuss how the company should approach diversity issues. However, he said those talks did not lead to action. “I don’t think they got it,” Veneszee said.
Winns, one of the job seekers who brought the charge, applied for three roles on Facebook, which he claims was well qualified. The current Facebook employee sent two of these positions. According to the indictment, Facebook allegedly prefers hiring employees based on the recommendations of existing employees. Winns, who has an MBA from William & Mary, has held roles in BNSF Railway, Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern Corporation. He currently works for a large technology company that has not been named for costs.
According to the indictment, the other Facebook employees currently in the same role as Winns, applied, have a similar or less experience or education than him, and they are all White.
In one of his Facebook interviews, Winns claims the recruit and interviewer said his background, including education and work experience, was a “strong convenience” for the job. Within 48 hours of the interview, he was informed that he had not been selected for the role.
Smith, another job seeker, applied for roles on Facebook in 2012, 2018 and 2020 for positions he claims were well qualified and met all the minimum and preferred requirements. Smith is a graduate of Clemson University and has worked on human resources, including technology companies, for nearly a decade.
This year, Facebook recruiter reportedly said she was well qualified for several jobs at the company and would send her applications for several jobs. The recruit reportedly stressed that “culture fit” is very important on Facebook. She was not offered any interview options, and was later informed that Facebook had decided not to move forward with any of those roles, according to the indictment.
Despite the allegations, Veneszee said she is still with the company because of the impact it feels it could have made in connecting with communities about diversity. He and the other complainants hope to work constructively with Facebook on the changes. “We have to look internally and be honest about what the problem is,” Veneszee said.