India-based outsourcing giant HCL blatantly discriminates in its hiring practices, routinely choosing Indians over non-Indians for employment, claimed a lawsuit filed March 7 in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.
The lawsuit, filed by Gregory Handloser, a salesman who was interviewed by Sunnyvale, Calif.-HCL America five times with senior management but was nonetheless never hired, also alleges that HCL is gaming the H-1B visa system by applying for far more of the highly-coveted visas than it actually needs. A total of 85,000 new H-1B visas — for highly-skilled temporary workers from abroad — are allotted each year by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, via a lottery system. India-based HCL America has 15,000 employees in the U.S. who provide IT and consultancy services. It is also one of the top users of H-1B visas.
At least 70 percent of HCL America’s workforce is of Indian origin, according to the lawsuit.
“To fulfill its employment preference for South Asians, HCL seeks to maximize the number of visas it receives each year from the federal government. HCL submits visa petitions for more positions than actually exist in the U.S. in order to maximize its chances of securing the highest number of available H-1B visas from the lottery process. In this way, HCL has been able to secure visas for far more individuals than it actually has a present need for,” alleged Handloser in his lawsuit. 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 U.S., claimed the suit.
HCL has 30 days to respond to Handloser’s suit; the company had not responded by press time March 12.
Handloser further alleged that HCL’s preference for “visa ready” employees “minimizes or eliminates competition for the jobs from non-South Asians residing in the U.S.”
Even in its hiring of U.S. residents, HCL continues to show its preferences for candidates of South Asian origin.
Handloser, now a managing partner at FHS Associates, has worked in sales since 2003. In 2013, Handloser was part of a class-action suit against India-based Infosys for race and national origin discrimination. Handloser worked as a sales manager at Infosys beginning in 2004.
“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,” alleged Handloser in the 2013 class action suit.
“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,” alleged the lawsuit, adding that the plaintiff’s supervisor and co-workers regularly spoke in Hindi in front of him, excluding him from work conversations. They also removed positive statements about his work from e-mails before forwarding them on, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against Infosys is still ongoing: a status conference has been set for March 25.
This is the third national origin and race discrimination lawsuit filed against HCL over the past seven months. In August 2018, Reese Voll, a computer systems architect, filed a similar suit in U.S. District Court in San Jose. Voll was hired by HCL to work on a project for PepsiCo. Voll alleged that his co-workers banded against him, ignoring requests for information and conducting work matters in Hindi. In 2016, he said he was removed from the project, but told to apply for another project through HCL. Voll stated he applied for three positions, but never heard back from the company. In January, both parties agreed to arbitration to resolve the dispute.
Also in January, William Garrett, an African American IT consultant, filed a lawsuit stating he was fired from HCL America after he reported the harassment of a Pakistani Muslim co-worker by an Indian American employee. (See earlier story in India-West: https://bit.ly/2NZfGlQ)