Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., an India-based IT outsourcing giant, is in an Oakland, Calif., court facing a trial in which the company is defending itself against claims of discrimination by American workers.
The plaintiffs say they lost their jobs at TCS offices in the U.S. after not being assigned to any of its clients, Bloomberg reported.
The report said that the company needs to offer a good explanation for why engineers hired at its American outposts are 13 times as likely to be fired if they’re not South Asian.
The trial casts a spotlight on work-visa programs that companies use to bring overseas workers to the U.S., a practice President Donald Trump has criticized in his protectionist push. TCS, Asia’s largest outsourcer, and rival Indian information technology staffing firms Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. have all been squeezed by the Trump administration to hire more Americans on U.S. soil, Bloomberg said.
Mumbai-based TCS denies any unlawful bias in its U.S. operations and says in court filings that the Caucasian American leading the lawsuit was removed from one of its projects and ultimately terminated over “performance concerns.”
“Our success is based on our ability to provide the best talent available, both in the U.S. and globally, based purely on the individual’s specialized experience, skills and fit for each client’s specific needs,” a company spokesman said in the report. “TCS also strictly adheres to all federal and state equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.”
Daniel Kotchen, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the aim of the litigation is to stop outsourcing firms from violating U.S. anti-discrimination laws, according to the report.
Kotchen’s firm is suing a half dozen other outsourcing companies over alleged discrimination, including Infosys and Wipro, it added.
“Locals are being fired at a strikingly higher rate. That’s who class members are, the victims of that practice,” he told the jury, according to the publication. “You’ll hear from defendants that Americans are stupid and lazy. The truth is that people are threatened with retaliation if they reported discrimination.”
The jury is expected to be shown statistical evidence that the odds of race and national origin not being a factor in TCS’s termination decisions are less than one in a billion. That’s because, since 2011, the company fired 12.6 percent of its non-South Asian workers in the U.S., compared with less than 1 percent of its South Asian employees, according to the complaint, Bloomberg said.
A unit of the Tata Group, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, TCS employs more than 400,000 people worldwide, is valued at about $100 billion and posted revenue of $19 billion for the fiscal year that ended in March.
Most of its revenue comes from the U.S., and its primary customers are in the financial services sector, the report said.
While TCS has won awards as a top employer in North America, the lawsuit paints a different picture. The case was brought as a class action on behalf of about 1,000 non-South Asians, most of them U.S. citizens, who were fired by TCS while on “benched” status – between job assignments, the report noted.
The plaintiffs allege TCS has engaged in a “systematic pattern and practice of discrimination” by favoring Indian ex-pats and visa-ready workers from India for U.S. positions, it said.
TCS’s lead attorney, Bernard Robert Given, will try to convince the jury that his client is a diverse global company that rejects discrimination, Bloomberg added.
While the class action alleges that TCS’s constant dependence on immigrant employees amounts to prejudice, he will argue that companies across the U.S. use similar hiring practices because of a well-documented labor shortage in the IT services industry.
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland scaled back the case to focus only on allegations about bias in firings, after concluding there was insufficient evidence to back up the claim that TCS discriminated against non-South Asian job applicants, the report noted.
The trial is slated to take about 18 days, it said.