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Class-action Lawsuit Alleges Infosys Discriminates Against Non-South Asians

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Infosys, alleging that the company has engaged in systematic, company-wide discrimination against Americans and others who are not of South Asian descent. The suit details alleged discriminatory practices stemming from the company’s abuse of the H-1B and B-1 visa programs, and makes extensive reference to alleged illegal and discriminatory activities revealed by Infosys employee and original whistleblower, Jay Palmer.

The new 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, the suit alleges, was denied employment at Infosys because she is not of South Asian descent. According to the complaint, “this matter is a class action with an amount in controversy of greater than $5 million.” Daniel Kotchen of Kotchen & Low LLP in Washington, D.C., lead counsel on the legal team that filed the lawsuit, was adamant about the egregiousness of Infosys’s actions.

“We are convinced there are very serious issues with Infosys,” Kotchen said. “We believe strongly in the case, and we look forward to prosecuting it.”

The complaint alleges, fundamentally, that Infosys’s actions are in violation of U.S. civil rights law:

Infosys has engaged in systematic, company-wide discrimination against individuals based upon their national origin. Specifically, Infosys has discriminated against individuals who are not of South Asian (including but not necessarily limited to India, Nepal, and Bangladesh) descent. Infosys discriminates against these individuals through disparate treatment in hiring and disparate impact in hiring in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

Although the lawsuit refers to individuals who are not of South Asian descent as being the victims of the alleged discrimination, the complaint makes it clear that in practice, it is a matter of discrimination against Americans, stemming in large part from Infosys’s alleged abuse of the H-1B and B-1 visa programs:

Infosys’s discrimination is stunning in its scope and effect. Infosys employs more than 15,000 individuals in the United States and approximately 90 percent of these employees are of South Asian descent (including individuals of Indian, Nepalese, and Bangladeshi descent). Infosys has reached this grossly disproportionate workforce by directly discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian decent in hiring, by abusing the H-1B visa process to bring workers of South Asian descent into the country rather than hiring qualified individuals already in the United States, and by abusing the B-1 visa system to bring workers of South Asian descent into the United States to perform work not allowed by their visa status rather than hiring individuals already in the United States to perform the work… Infosys’s use and misuse of B-1 visas have had a disparate impact on individuals of American national origin, who by definition will not be brought to the United States for work under these programs.

The legal team that filed the lawsuit made extensive reference in the complaint to the alleged illegal and discriminatory practices revealed by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, whose revelations sparked the ongoing multi-agency criminal investigation of Infosys by the United States government. The complaint also made specific reference to the government’s actions:

Upon information and belief, Infosys Defendants’ practices relating to visas and employment of foreign-national workers in the United States are subject to extensive investigations by multiple Federal Government authorities, including for potential criminal violations.

The lawsuit spelled out, moreover, what’s being demanded of Infosys:

Infosys’s discrimination as set out in this Complaint is continuing in nature. Plaintiff seeks, on behalf of herself and the class of similarly situated individuals, declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory, nominal, and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses to redress Infosys’s pervasive pattern and practice of discriminatory employment policies, practices, and procedures.

Kotchen, the lead counsel, said individuals who believe they have been denied employment by Infosys due to discrimination on the basis of national origin are encouraged to contact Michael Brown of the law firm Peterson, Berk & Cross SC.

Infosys did not respond to a request for comment.

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