Infosys, TCS sued in U.S. for underpaying employees, hiring practices

Infosys, TCS sued in U.S. for underpaying employees, hiring practices

Indian tech giants Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys have been sued in the U.S., over wage discrimination and unfair hiring practices, media reports here stated. These cases in US Courts  follow an earlier lawsuit filed Aug. 15 against TCS and HCL Technologies, which alleged that the Indian multinational giants unfairly favored Indian Americans in its hiring practices.

A lawsuit against TCS 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 in the District Court of New Jersey alleged that TCS also discriminates when it hires locally, disproportionately favoring Indian Americans and South Asian Americans.

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.”

Anuj Kapoor, a former employee on a CVS project in Rhode Island, filed the suit against Infosys in June, alleging the company made him work more than 1,000 hours of overtime without pay. The company responded in August, stating that the employee was an ‘hourly’ worker on an H1-B visa even though Infosys had listed him as a salaried employee in an application with the Department of Labor, a potential reason for its Wage and Hour Division to look into the case.

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.

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.

Indian IT companies have faced lawsuits from employees before. WiproNSE -0.28 % was sued by an employee for unpaid overtime. However, the current regulatory environment in the US makes lawsuits and complaints raise concerns. “As long as companies have followed the applicable laws and terms of the labor condition application (LCA) for H-1B workers, they will have no problem but would, of course, have to incur expenses to defend the cases in court. Further, even if there is even a slight grey area about the issue then it could be more complicated,” said Poorvi Chothani, managing partner at immigration law firm LawQuest.

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