Former U.S. Infosys Employees Allege Discrimination on Basis of National Origin

Don Tennant

A class-action lawsuit filed in August against Infosys, alleging that the company has engaged in systematic, company-wide discrimination against Americans and others who are not of South Asian descent, has been amended to include two former Infosys employees, and a contractor working under Infosys’s management, who have come forward to allege that they, too, suffered discrimination.

As I wrote at the time, the original lawsuit, filed on Aug. 1 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, was brought on behalf of Brenda Koehler, an American IT project manager in Milwaukee who was allegedly denied employment at Infosys because she is not of South Asian descent. The lawyers who filed it were subsequently contacted by two former Infosys employees who gave similar accounts of discrimination: Layla Bolten, a software analysis and testing specialist in Dickerson, Md.; and Gregory Handloser, a sales manager in Sarasota, Fla. Also contacting the lawyers was contractor Kelly Parker, an IT help desk support specialist in Minocqua, Wis. The lawyers amended the lawsuit to include the allegations from these individuals, and filed it on Sept. 27.

Here’s a summary of Bolten’s allegations as they appear in the amended lawsuit:

In or around December 2012, Infosys Public Service won a $49.5 million contract with the Washington, D.C. government to design and build the IT infrastructure supporting the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange, an online shopping center for health insurance created under the Affordable Care Act. A large portion of Infosys’s work involved “testing” the system to find bugs. Ms. Bolten has considerable experience as a software tester, and interviewed for a job with Infosys Public Services. Although Ms. Bolten was told that she would serve as a “Test Lead,” she was ultimately hired simply as a tester, a position that had less responsibility and lower pay than the Test Lead position. Ms. Bolten performed her job well and helped her co-workers to understand information that was critical to the job (e.g., the relevance of social security numbers). Ms. Bolten also noticed that the vast majority of the “Test Lead” positions were filled with South Asian workers (predominantly Indians). These individuals had considerably less experience with software testing than Ms. Bolten. Ms. Bolten requested a promotion on multiple occasions including in more advanced testing fields for which she had considerable experience. Infosys instead promoted South Asian workers and brought additional Indian workers (who were in the country on visas) to perform work for the testing project in spite of the fact that these workers had no experience as software testers. Ms. Bolten was also harassed because she was not Indian, and her supervisors excluded her from work conversations by speaking Hindi. The harassment increased after Ms. Bolten complained that her co-workers were excluding her by speaking Hindi.


The amended lawsuit summarized Handloser’s allegations as follows:

Mr. Handloser was hired by Infosys in 2004 as a Sales Manager. Mr. Handloser performed his job well. In or around 2011, Infosys began a concerted effort in the U.S. to purge non-South Asian employees in favor of South Asians, including in the sales force and other areas that had comparatively large numbers of non-South Asian employees. In 2011 and 2012, Infosys began to set unrealistic sales goals for Mr. Handloser, denied him his bonuses, and fired Mr. Handloser soon after he finalized a contract with a major client. While Mr. Handloser was employed, his supervisors and co-workers regularly spoke Hindi in front of him, excluding him from work conversations, and removed positive statements about his work from e-mails before forwarding them on.

And this is the amended lawsuit’s summary of Parker’s allegations:

In 2012, Infosys and Harley Davidson finalized a five-year engagement for IT services. As part of the arrangement, Infosys was to provide Harley IT services, including applications management, infrastructure support, and hosting services. As a result of its contract with Infosys, Harley Davidson announced that it was cutting 125 workers from its IT staff. Infosys publicly announced that it was hiring 125 workers in Milwaukee, primarily to provide IT services to Harley Davidson.  … [I]n 2012, Ms. Parker was contracted to work under the management of Infosys and was providing IT services to Harley Davidson from Tomahawk, WI, a small town in central Wisconsin. Ms. Parker was popular within Harley Davidson (Infosys’s client), and had serviced the client well. Nonetheless, in September 2013, Infosys decided not to hire Ms. Parker permanently and terminated the contract under which Ms. Parker worked in favor of Kapil Kulkarni, a South Asian who Ms. Parker herself had trained and who moved to Tomahawk to replace her.

In addition, the amended lawsuit cited an Infosys hiring manager who told an Indian media outlet after the original lawsuit was filed that “an element of discrimination” does indeed exist within Infosys, and that he was unsurprised by the lawsuit.

Infosys did not respond to a request for comment.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Oct 14, 2013 8:24 PM Infosys employee Infosys employee  says:
What about the cleaning of PR and Marketing Department to put their activities back in India.? Reply
Oct 15, 2013 10:56 AM Dolores Dolores  says:
For over a decade now, in discussion forums and comment board, these foreign workers and their supporters have been razzing Americans to "compete" claiming that if we were any good and we put forth any effort we'd be getting hired and retained, and that if our careers weren't going well, it was all our fault. Stories like this illustrate exactly what we American IT workers on the ground have known for years: the deck is stacked against us, one the foreigners attain critical mass. We Americans are being discriminated against in our own land, and we have no homeland to return to if America doesn't work out for us. What good will it do us to pursue STEM degrees and keep our skills current, when we get laughed out of companies and turned down for interviews by people who hate us for our nationality and are looking to take away what we've earned? Reply
Oct 28, 2013 11:56 PM jake_leone jake_leone  says:
I remember back in 90's when Harley Davidson was lobbying the U.S. government for protection from foreign bike manufacturers. Harley was hurting and the citizens of this nation saved that company. That's why it seems like such a sick thing, that (apparently according to the allegations above) Harley would now be complicit (indeed condoning) in this clear case of ethnic discrimination, against people U.S. nationality. Any company that expects help from the United States, has to at least make an effort to live up to the values of this country. Equal competition, without regard to national origin. Clearly when Ms Parker trained her foreign replacement, this does not appear to be the case at Harley Davidson. She was the better worker and more qualified, instead she was replaced with a worker with lower qualifications, save one: Her replacement was of right/correct national origin. It looks like a terrible case of ethnic discrimination driven by a management that appears to just want to take the profits and run. I would like to hear what Harley has to say about this. Reply
Oct 29, 2013 2:40 PM Odumbo Odumbo  says:
"the deck is stacked against us, one the foreigners attain critical mass" Hey, you want immigration reform, then accept the whole package that comes with it. Don't make me play the race card now. Reply
Nov 12, 2013 7:16 AM Jay Jay  says:
First and most important, can someone please provide me contact information regarding the lawyers or Kelly. I'm interested to discuss some of the things I've witnessed. This is quite the article, and if you've been at all involved on the HDMC - Infosys contract; the discrimination is apparent. I like the joke about immigration reform, but these are not actual citizens. They just coughed up $35 million for illegal use of Visas. Reply
Jan 14, 2014 1:17 PM margaretbartley margaretbartley  says:
This is part of the deindustrialization of the US. There are hundreds of members of the Indian Caucus in the House of Representatives. It's like the Black Caucus, only instead of supporting the interests of Afro-americans, it is supporting the interests of south-east Asians. If you google "McDermott Elected as Democratic Chair of the India Caucus" you'll get a link to a 404-missing page, but if you look at the down-arrow to the right, you'll see the cache of that page, which is still up, and you can see a discussion of the House Indian Caucus. Another URL is http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/house-india-caucus-members-drops-to-110-from-186/ the Senate has its own Indian Caucus. See a story at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=senate-india-caucus, These Indian caucuses have been around for a long time, and have invested a lot of lobbying money. This has been decades in the making, and it's almost too late, now. We haven't even mentioned the billions of dollars American IT firms have spent training Asians to do the work that they won't train Americans to do. Reply
Mar 5, 2014 7:44 PM JohnDoe JohnDoe  says:
Corruption is the norm in India, why should we expect anything different from Infosys? Their country is over-populated and there is not enough opportunity, so they come to the US as students, H1-B workers, etc. When times are hard, they only seem to want to help each other find work and to hell with Americans. Reply

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