Tech lawsuits

Indian American Anuj Kapoor has sued Indian multinational giant Infosys, saying the company owes him about 1,000 hours in unpaid overtime pay. (IANS file photo)

Fueling the anti H-1B dialogue of the Trump administration, Indian tech giants Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys are facing lawsuits in the U.S., over wage discrimination and unfair hiring practices,

The lawsuits follow in the tracks of a lawsuit filed Aug. 15 against HCL Technologies, which alleged that the Indian multinational giant unfairly favored Indian Americans in its hiring practices (see India-West story here).

TCS faces the same allegations in a lawsuit filed in August by three U.S. citizens, who allege that the company prefers to bring in Indian H-1B workers even when there are trained U.S. citizens who could fill the positions. The lawsuit – brought about by plaintiffs Darryl Stacy, Donald Stephen Bradley and Hesham Hafez in the District Court of New Jersey – alleged that TCS also discriminates when it hires locally, disproportionately favoring Indian Americans and South Asian Americans.

Stacy and Bradley worked for Southern California Edison; laid-off workers from the power supply company have formed an ad-hoc organization – Save Jobs USA – which has filed a lawsuit stating that H-1B workers and their H-4 spouses with work permits steal jobs from American workers. That lawsuit was initially dismissed by a lower court, but is being appealed in the DC Court of Appeals, as the Trump administration attempts to revoke the H-4 EAD program.

Hafez worked at Royal Bank of Scotland in Connecticut.

The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount of compensatory damages as well as exemplary and punitive damages.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that Surya Kant, TCS’ president for North America, and Narasimhan Srinivasan, vice president and head of human resources, devised and implemented a nationwide ‘leadership directive’ to utilize TCS’s visa-ready South Asian employees to the ‘maximum extent’ when filling U.S. positions.”

The TCS plaintiffs are represented by Kotchen & Low, which is also representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit against HCL. A TCS spokesperson told the Economic Times that the allegations by the plaintiffs are baseless and the company is confident that it will successfully defend itself.

In related news, a former Indian American employee of Infosys – who was outsourced for a project at CVS in Connecticut – has sued the Indian multinational, claiming the company refused to pay him for the overtime hours he worked on nights and weekends.

The employee, Anuj Kapoor, alleged that Infosys threatened to send him back to India if he persisted with his wage claim. Kapoor said in his lawsuit that he worked more than 1,000 hours of overtime for which he was not paid.

His attorney Thomas Enright told the Providence Journal that the Bangalore-based company has a pattern of ill-treating H-1B workers and foreign-born employees.

“Foreign-born workers will consider themselves lucky to be working in the United States,” Enright said, adding, “It’s difficult to get people in that position to step forward.”

Infosys denied Kapoor’s allegations in its response to the lawsuit, saying it had paid the hourly worker the “complete, correct and proper” wages he was due.

According to the lawsuit, Kapoor worked at CVS for 40 hours a week, five days a week. Infosys, however, would require employees to participate in mandatory conference calls and trainings with team members in India after midnight or in the early-morning hours, the suit says.

Kapoor alleged that two managers instructed him not to submit for overtime on his timecard, despite forcing him to work extra hours. One often remarked that the reason a company such as CVS contracted with Infosys was that no American worker would agree to employment that required them to work overtime without compensation, and that Infosys hoped to replace CVS’s primary software vendor, according to the suit.

CVS, through a spokesman, denied any role in the allegations.

“CVS Health is committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and business practices, and we require every vendor we work with to comply with all state and federal laws, including all rules about how a vendor should pay its employees,” Michael J. DeAngelis said in an email.

In 2013, Infosys agreed to pay $34 million to settle a case with the U.S. Justice Department to end an investigation into the widespread practice by Indian firms of flying workers to client sites in the United States on temporary visas, according to Reuters.

Infosys agreed in the settlement that it committed civil violations of U.S. employment law, but was not required to admit and did not admit widespread further wrongdoing, according to the news agency.

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