Facebook Inc. was accused of systemic discrimination in hiring, compensation and promotion of Black people in a complaint to federal civil rights authorities. Thursday’s complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a Washington-based operations program manager adds pressure on the social network, which is facing an advertising boycott over its failure to remove violent, divisive, racist and discriminatory posts. Along with other major tech companies, Facebook also has been criticized for its lack of diversity.
Oscar Veneszee Jr., a decorated 23-year U.S. Navy veteran hired by the company in 2017 to recruit other workers retired from the armed services, said he filed the complaint after his objections to Facebook managers over treatment of African Americans went nowhere. It was filed as a class action to represent other Black people who’ve experienced discrimination inside the company, as well as those who claim they were unfairly denied jobs with the social network.
“The only way to get contributions from Black experience is to have more Black employees at the company,” Veneszee said in an interview. “I think the desire is there, but I don’t think there’s an understanding of what’s required to transition to a company that’s more open, to being diverse, bold.”
Facebook said “we take any allegations of discrimination seriously and investigate every case.”
”We believe it is essential to provide all employees with a respectful and safe working environment,” spokesperson Pamela Austin said in an email.
Facebook, along with Google and Microsoft Corp., have renewed pledges to prioritize diversity in the wake of nationwide protests and calls to end systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd. Veneszee said he was motivated to complain to the EEOC in part by recent protests.
“We are really as a country talking about getting it right this time,” Veneszee said in the interview. “As I look at our response, I don’t think it has connected to the pain deep enough in order to develop solutions that are going to be better for us as a company.”