Oscar Veneszee, a Black employee at Facebook, and two other job applicants, Howard Winns Jr and Jazsmin Smith have filed an EEOC complaint that alleges Facebook of racial discrimination.
In the past, Facebook has run into similar issues regarding racial diversity and has also faced allegations about racial discrimination. Facebook has been criticized for its lack of diversity; for instance, in 2014 black employees were only 2% of the workforce. Yet, in five years there was no significant increase in diversity as in 2019 the percentage, 3.8%, remained low. The lack of diversity and increasing racial discrimination became so prevalent that just last year a dozen current and former employees penned an anonymous letter titled “Facebook empowers racism against its employees of color,” which goes on to allege of the discriminatory treatment employees of color have faced.
Therefore, Veneszee, Winns, and Smith, wanting to bring forth their complaints in more than an anonymous letter, turned to the EEOC. Their complaints allege that Facebook has a “general policy of discrimination against Black applicants and workers, including in hiring, evaluations, promotions, and pay.”
As a current employee Veneszee details his negative experiences alleging that he has heard co-workers say the N-word and has also been criticized for his constructive advice on improving the diversity recruitment plans. Specifically, on one occasion Veneszee went to a recruiter to ask why there was only one historically Black college on her plan. The recruiter then went on to complain that she felt attacked by Veneszee’s questioning. Shockingly, Veneszee was made to apologize to the recruiter. Veeszee, impacted by the situation, describes it by saying “I don’t see why the word HBCU or Black would offend anyone.”
Moreover, Veneszee believes that despite always exceeding expectations at his job he has only ever received a “meets all expectations.” Veneszee goes on to explain that, in addition to his inaccurate average reviews, he has also never been promoted despite his manager always praising his work.
The complaint filed to the EEOC also focuses on Facebook’s discriminatory policies that hurt the opportunities of Black applicants. In Winns’ case, he alleges that his education and work experience more than qualifies him for the positions he applied for. Yet, while Winns was not given a job, white employees who have similar or less experience than him were given the roles Winn applied for. Smith, similarly, reveals that despite her 10 year experience working in human resources, which included tech firms, and despite recruiter saying she is well qualified, Smith was not hired as recruiters also claim a “culture fit” is also very important.
With heavy critiques the complaint goes on to say that “People of color and Black workers in particular remain underrepresented at all levels of Facebook and especially at the management and leadership levels. They do not feel respected or heard. And they do not believe that Black workers have an equal opportunity to advance their careers at Facebook. 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.”
Despite the risk of filing complaints about racial discrimination while still employed, Venezcee, while admitting that it was a difficult decision, believes that the time to act is now. Veneszee, Winns, and Smith are hoping that their complaints will lead Facebook in constructively working with them to bring upon much needed change to the company.
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