Four months after Indian IT major TCS was acquitted by a California jury which stated that it did not discriminate against non-South Asian workers in the US as alleged in a lawsuit, it is now HCL’s turn to be accused of similar discrimination charges. US law firm Kotchen & Low has filed a class-action lawsuit against HCL Technologies alleging discrimination in its hiring practices.
The suit alleges that the IT company failed to hire Gregory Handloser due to its ‘systematic and continuous discriminatory scheme’, although he was considered for employment with HCL Tech five times between 2017 and 2018.
As per the suit, filed in the Northern District of California -San Jose division, last month,“On October 19, 2017, Mr Handloser spoke with former colleague Ralph Billington, Associate Vice-president at HCL, about a sales position with HCL’s UTC Aerospace Systems account, for which he was the hiring manager. During the interview, Ralph Billington explained that his team had nine salespeople, seven of whom were Indian and South Asian. Subsequently, Ralph Billington informed Mr Handloser that, although he was interested in hiring Mr Handloser, superiors directed Billington to hire the Indian candidate for the position.”
According to the lawsuit, while the exact number of class members is unknown to the plaintiff, it is believed to be in the thousands and that class members are readily identifiable from information and records in HCL’s possession.
Previously, in last August, the law firm had filed a similar case against HCL Tech on behalf of Reese Voll, a former employee, but the IT major won its motion to compel arbitration in the case in January.
Meanwhile, in response to ET, HCL Tech stated that it would vigorously defend itself. The company stated,
“HCL is currently reviewing the lawsuit and will respond appropriately. The Company takes pride in its employment practices, including the hiring and promotion of a diverse team in its US Subsidiary (HCL, America). It employs 15K people in the US with 63% hired locally in the country.”
It is not surprising that Kotchen & Low, the law firm representing Handloser, has over the years filed cases against top-tier Indian IT companies, including Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra and Tata Consultancy Services. In its latest case, in November, the law firm lost its case against TCS after a jury ruled that TCS did not discriminate against Americans in its hiring practices. The win was a major vindication for the Indian IT lobby especially in times where President Trump and his administration has been trumpeting the mantra of American jobs for Americans first, even though there is a significant shortage of STEM talent in the country. To fight off this stigma, TCS, Infosys, and other IT majors have been significantly ramping up investments in STEM initiatives in the US.