In court documents, Wisconsin-based Brenda Koehler’s attorneys said that Infosys turned down her job application for a vacancy at the company despite her meeting the requirements for the job and instead hired a person of South Asian descent for the position. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint (Hemant Mishra/Mint)
In court documents, Wisconsin-based Brenda Koehler’s attorneys said that Infosys turned down her job application for a vacancy at the company despite her meeting the requirements for the job and instead hired a person of South Asian descent for the position. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
(Hemant Mishra/Mint)

Infosys faces lawsuit over discrimination in US hiring

A US-based IT worker alleges that Infosys favours workers from South Asia over US job applicants

Bangalore: A US-based information technology (IT) professional has filed a lawsuit against India’s second-largest software exporter Infosys Ltd, alleging that the company had discriminated against job applicants in the country by preferring to hire workers from South Asia to fill positions in the US.

In court documents, Wisconsin-based Brenda Koehler’s attorneys said that Infosys turned down her job application for a vacancy at the company despite her meeting the requirements for the job and instead hired a person of South Asian descent for the position. The documents have been reviewed by Mint.

“Ms. Koehler has advanced college education, training, and job experience in information technology (IT), met the requirements for the job that were posted by Infosys and was, therefore, qualified for the position to which she applied. Infosys discriminated against Ms. Koehler, choosing to hire an individual of South Asian descent for the position," attorneys representing Koehler said in the documents.

Koehler and her attorneys are seeking permission from a Wisconsin district court to allow a class-action lawsuit against Infosys. According to the court documents, Koehler had applied for a position as a “Lead VMware/Windows Administrator" with Infosys.

“Infosys is an equal opportunity employer. We categorically deny Ms. Koehler’s claims," a spokesperson for Bangalore-based Infosys said in an email reply. “We look forward to addressing this matter in court, not in public venues where facts can become mixed with rumour, opinion and speculation. It is important to understand that no proof of class action suitability has been presented and no court has ruled that the case is appropriate for class action treatment."

Koehler’s lawsuit comes at a time when US lawmakers are pushing an immigration Bill that will force offshore Indian information technology (IT) companies such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), Infosys and Wipro Ltd to hire more local US employees, thus potentially disrupting their traditional business models by raising costs of doing business in the country.

The landmark Bill, which has already been approved by the US Senate, is currently being reviewed and is awaiting approval by the House of Representatives.

“Infosys’s discrimination is stunning in its scope and effect. Infosys employs more than 15,000 individuals in the US and approximately 90% of these employees are of South Asian descent (including individuals of Indian, Nepalese, and Bangladeshi descent)," the lawsuit said. Koehler has 17 years experience in the IT industry, according to the documents.

“Infosys has reached this grossly disproportionate workforce by directly discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian decent in hiring, by abusing the H-1B visa process to bring workers of South Asian descent into the country rather than hiring qualified individuals already in the US."

Last year, Infosys had received a lawsuit from a former employee at the company alleging visa fraud. In December, a US court dismissed the lawsuit filed by Satya Dev Tripuraneni, a US employee of Infosys. Prior to that, a US-based employee Jack Palmer had filed a lawsuit alleging that Infosys had harassed him after he reported instances of business visa fraud.

Infosys shares ended 0.71% lower at 2,986.10 apiece on BSEon Tuesday, while the Sensex lost 2.34%, or 449.22 points, to end at 18,733.04.

To see lawsuit documents, click here.

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