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Posted at: Sep 11, 2019, 2:20 PM; last updated: Sep 11, 2019, 8:33 PM (IST)

Indian IT company accused of discrimination against non-Indians

Indian IT company accused of discrimination against non-Indians
Happiest Minds employs over 2,400 individuals worldwide and approximately 200 individuals in the US. File photo

Washington, September 11

In a class action lawsuit, an Indian digital service company has been accused of discrimination against non-Indians and giving preference to people from South Asia in hiring and jobs.

In her lawsuit, American national Tami Sulzberg alleges that at least 90 per cent of the US workforce of San Jose-based Happiest Minds, whose headquarters is in Bangalore, are South Asians, primarily from India.

Happiest Minds employs over 2,400 individuals worldwide and approximately 200 individuals in the US.

According to Sulzberg, Happiest Minds prefers to hire and employ South Asians and Indians, and it effects this preference in three ways.

First, she said, the company engaged in a practice of securing H-1B visas (and other visas) for South Asian and Indian workers located overseas, who would then be used to staff US positions.

The lawsuit alleged that non-South Asian and non-Indian individuals are often displaced from their current positions in favour of South Asian and Indian visa-ready individuals.

For instance, Sulzberg was replaced in her Director of Business Development position (a sales role) by an L-1 visa holder, Chandan Das, who travelled from India to the US for work, the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, Happiest Minds gives preference to South Asian and Indian applicants located in the US over non-South Asian and non-Indian applicants.

As a result, Happiest Minds hires a disproportionately high percentage of South Asians and Indians within the United States that far exceeds the proportion of those individuals in the relevant labour market.

For example, from January 2014 to October 2018, Happiest Minds hired 52 individuals in the US, 29 of whom (56 per cent) are South Asian and 26 (50 per cent) of whom are visa-dependent.

The lawsuit alleges that because of its discriminatory preference for South Asians and Indians, Happiest Minds terminates non-South Asians and non-Indians at disproportionately high rates, compared to South Asians and Indians.

Non-South Asians and non-Indians assigned to projects and those working in sales roles are terminated at substantially higher rates than South Asian and Indians, it alleged.

The lawsuit seeks an order from the court, asking Happiest Minds to adopt a non-discriminatory method for hiring, firing and other employment-related decisions. It also seeks unspecified damages from the IT company. PTI

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