HCL lawsuit

In this file photo, Indian Bollywood film actress Nargis Fakhri holds a newly launched HCL tablet at a function in New Delhi on April 2, 2012. HCL Technologies, a multinational corporation headquartered in Noida, is being sued in the U.S. by a white male software engineer who alleges that the company disproportionately favors Indian Americans when hiring. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

A lawsuit filed Aug. 15 in San Jose, Calif., District Court accuses Indian multinational giant HCL Technologies of discriminatory hiring practices that overwhelmingly favor Indian Americans.

The class action lawsuit’s named plaintiff is Dallas, Texas-based computer systems architect Reese Voll. The class action has been brought about for all workers not of South Asian ethnicity who applied for positions with HCL in the U.S. and were not hired. The class action also represents non-South Asians who were employed by HCL in the U.S. and sought a promotion but were not promoted, and those who were employed by the HCL in the U.S. and were involuntarily terminated. It seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

Voll is represented by attorney Daniel Low, of Kotchen & Low in Washington, D.C., who has pursued similar claims against Indian multinationals Infosys Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., as reported by The Recorder. Low told the publication that he learned about HCL’s practices while litigating one of the other cases.

HCL Technologies – headquartered in Noida, India – has offices around the world; in the U.S., the company is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The company had not issued a response to the suit as of Aug. 17.

The lawsuit notes that approximately 70 percent of HCL’s U.S.-based workforce is of South Asian origin, primarily Indian American. The company employs 12,000 workers in the U.S., who work primarily in information technology.

“This grossly disproportionate workforce is the result of HCL’s intentional pattern and practice of employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian, including discrimination in hiring, promotion, and termination decisions,” noted the suit, alleging that HCL was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

The lawsuit accused HCL of securing H-1B and L-1 visas for Indians to place them in U.S.-based positions and alleges that the company applies for more H-1B workers than it needs in order to be able to maximize the number of approved applications.

HCL is consistently one of the top-10 H-1B visa recipients in the U.S., and from 2015 to 2017, HCL received 10,432 new H-1B visas and 310 L-1 visas, “far more positions than could actually exist given that HCL only employs approximately 12,000 individuals in the United States,” alleged plaintiffs in the suit.

“HCL’s explicit preference to staff visa holders in U.S. positions minimizes or eliminates competition for the jobs from non-South Asians residing in the U.S. Similarly, non-South Asian individuals are often displaced from their current positions in favor of South Asian and visa-ready individuals. Non-South Asians are then disproportionately relegated to the bench, as jobs are given to visa-holding South Asians from India,” alleges the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that HCL also prefers to hire Indian Americans already living in the U.S., and promotes Indian Americans more rapidly than other staff. Non-South Asian Americans are also terminated more rapidly than their South Asian counterparts, alleges the suit.

Voll worked with HCL for two years as the chief architect for its “SWAT” team at a PepsiCo plant in Dallas; he was the only non-South Asian, according to the suit.

Voll alleged that he faced hostile behavior from the other HCL employees, who refused to share information necessary for him to perform his work.

A few months before he was laid off without a severance package, Voll was demoted without reason, according to the lawsuit. He was told he could apply online for other positions within the company but never received callbacks for interviews.

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