A Black employee for Facebook, represented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has alleged in a complaint he experienced racial discrimination at the firm, being denied promotions and pay raises and receiving unfair evaluations, despite “excellent” work performance. Meanwhile, two job applicants say they were denied the opportunity to work for the company – despite being qualified – because of their skin color.
According to the Associated Press, the employee was employed as an operations program manager at the social media firm. Facebook said it is committed to investigating allegations of racism. The AP reports that like many Silicon Valley companies, Black workers are underrepresented, accounting for less than 4 percent of the total number of Facebook employees and only 1.5 percent of the company’s technical workers.
Allegations of racial discrimination have been leveled before at the company. Although CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared last month that, “Black lives matter,” previous employees say the tech firm hasn’t made racial diversity a priority.
Two years ago when a former Black executive left the firm, he sent a memo to his colleagues on his last day, detailing what he characterized as the company’s “Black people problem.” He explained that despite black people being among the most connected on the platform, the company disenfranchises these users in the same way it marginalizes black workers. He detailed stories from other Black employees who were called aggressive or hostile by managers or co-workers when they shared thoughts – not unlike other non-Black team members.
One year after that memo was distributed, another piece – anonymously published in Medium by 12 people purported to be current and former Facebook employees – alleged ongoing racial discrimination at work. They describe being subjected to numerous micro and macroaggressions, which they said were intended to send the message daily that they do not belong there.
- White employees asking a Black program manager to cleanup after they had all finished eating breakfast.
- Black employees more likely to receive adverse feedback, including on how they speak and receiving instruction to be more respectful and reserved.
- Some Black employees said there have been instances when colleagues have treated them with outright aggression.
The company has made much of its efforts to prioritize diversity in its recruiting, but those inside say that it has done little to make sure the minorities who are working for them are treated equitably.
Meanwhile, the company is being boycotted by hundreds of advertisers for alleged failure to control what they say is divisive and hateful content. Employees at the company have also protested Zuckerberg’s decision to allow a post by President Trump – widely viewed as a racially divisive call for violence against BLM protesters – up without challenge.
The anonymous employee memo posted to the Medium notes correctly that racial discrimination and bias in the workplace isn’t always loud or occur in big moments. It can be subtle and incremental. It’s often woven into the fabric of a corporate culture significantly enough that it is often never even acknowledged – even though it ultimately does add up, particularly when majority population co-workers are “elevated, celebrated and promoted” for doing less than the work with which they’ve been tasked.
From a legal standpoint, what our racial discrimination attorneys need to establish is that employees experienced adverse treatment by their employers at least in part because of their race.