Infosys’ U.S. workforce is mostly South Asian and no accident, plaintiffs allege

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By:  Patrick Thibodeau

The composition of Infosys’ U.S. workforce is too lopsided — overwhelmingly South Asian — to be an accident, allege the plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit.

The plaintiffs, four IT workers from around the U.S., brought their discrimination lawsuit against the India-based IT services giant in 2013. This week, they filed a motion seeking class-action certification from 2009, and say the potential pool of plaintiffs may be as large as 125,000.

In bringing this motion, the plaintiffs also worked to cement their claims with expert help.

David Neumark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, analyzed Infosys’ U.S. workforce for the plaintiffs and wrote a 76-page report filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, where the case is being heard.

Neumark, an expert witness, described Infosys’ workforce as “remarkably disproportionate” because of its South Asian hiring.

The lawsuit alleges that the India-based firm was engaged in “ongoing national origin and race discrimination,” and claimed, at the time the lawsuit was filed, that the Infosys U.S. workforce was roughly 90% South Asian.

One plaintiff was hired by Infosys to work on a $49.5 million Affordable Care Act, government-funded development project for the District of Columbia. There were about 100 Infosys employees working on the healthcare project, but only three were American, the lawsuit claimed. The plaintiff alleged harassment, and was denied promotion, the complaint said.

Neumark brought a statistical analysis to the discrimination claim. Specifically, the economist wrote, “from 2009 through 2015, 89.39% of Infosys’ United States workforce was South Asian while only 11.45% of the United States’ Computer Systems Design and Related Services industry was South Asian.

Neumark wrote that “the share of South Asian workers in Infosys’ United States-based workforce, when compared to the relevant labor market, is 301.17 standard deviations higher, and the statistical likelihood that this disparity is due to chance — as opposed to a systematic difference in hiring favoring one group over the other — is less than 0.0000001%, or less than 1 in 1 billion.”

Infosys is one the largest users of H-1B visa workers. Infosys employs about 20,000 in the U.S, according to court records.

When asked for comment, Infosys said as a general policy it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The motion for class certification covers all individuals who are not of South Asian race or Indian national origin, who sought a position with Infosys in the United States and who were not hired from August 1, 2009 through the date of class certification. It also covers those who were denied promotions or terminated.

Plaintiff attorney Michael von Klemperer, with law firm Kotchen & Low in Washington, said: “We believe strongly in the merits of the case, including the merits of the class-certification motion, and we look forward to the court’s ruling and we look forward to trying the case.”

It’s expected that Infosys will file a response to the motion. A ruling by a judge on the class-certification motion isn’t expected until next year.

The lawsuit last year survived an effort by Infosys to dismiss it.

In the ruling to allow the case to proceed, U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Pepper wrote, in part, “that the plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient to state claims that the defendants intentionally discriminated against them because of the plaintiff’s’ race, and the complaint is clear that the plaintiffs regard their race as distinct from the ‘South Asian race’ that the defendants allegedly favor.”

There were some 50 exhibits filed in this case, including one from a former Infosys recruiter who said, in a declaration, that in conference calls “many of the highly qualified American candidates we presented were being rejected in favor of Indian candidates.”

This story, “Infosys’ U.S. workforce is mostly South Asian and no accident, plaintiffs allege” was originally published by Computerworld.