India’s IT giant Tata Consultancy Services will have to explain to a US jury for why engineers hired at its American outposts are 13 times as likely to be fired if they’re not South Asian.
The company is set to go on trial Monday in California over racial discrimination claims by American workers who lost their jobs at TCS offices in the US. The trial will cast a spotlight on work-visa programs companies use to bring overseas workers to the US, a practice President Donald Trump has been criticizing as part of his protectionist propaganda.
Meanwhile, TCS denies any unlawful bias in its US 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.”
A company spokesperson stated, “Our success is based on our ability to provide the best talent available, both in the US and globally, based purely on the individual’s specialized experience, skills and fit for each client’s specific needs. TCS also strictly adheres to all federal and state equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.”
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% of its non-South Asian workers in the U.S., compared with less than 1% of its South Asian employees, according to the complaint.
The case was brought as a class action on behalf of about 1,000 non-South Asians -- most of them US citizens -- who were fired by TCS while on “benched” status, meaning they were laid off by the company while they were between job assignments.
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 US positions.
Daniel Kotchen, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the litigation aims to stop outsourcing firms from violating US anti-discrimination laws. Kotchen’s firm is also suing a half dozen other outsourcing firms over alleged discrimination, including Infosys and Wipro. He’s also seeking a court order requiring the company to adopt non-discriminatory practices.
The case is Buchanan v. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., 15-cv-01696, US District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland). The case comes among increasing protectionist policies by the US, which is affecting Indian IT firms. TCS, Infosys, and Wipro have all been squeezed by the Trump administration to hire more Americans on US soil. In August this year, US extended the suspension of the premium H-1B visa issuance by five more months, as a part of its efforts to tighten its immigration policies.