Infosys slams employment discrimination lawsuit in Wisconsin court

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NEW YORK: India’s top IT services company Infosys has slammed a motion to certify a class of workers alleging the company illegally gives preference to South Asian workers in hiring, promoting and firing, telling a Wisconsin federal court on Monday that the plaintiffs’ statistical evidence of discrimination is lacking.

Infosys urged the Eastern District of Wisconsin not to certify three proposed classes of non-South Asian and Indian workers allegedly fired or denied jobs and promotions through the company’s discriminatory policies, according to Law360.

The proposed class action lawsuit has been brought by four whites alleging they suffered employment discrimination because of their non-South Asian national origin. The case was filed by a job applicant, former intern, former employee and former employee of a subsidiary.

The plaintiffs want the court to certify three classes: a hiring class consisting of individuals who are not of South Asian or Indian national origin who unsuccessfully sought employment with Infosys in the U.S. from Aug. 1, 2009, through the date of class certification and a promotion class and a termination class consisting of non-Asian and non-Indian employees who were not promoted or were terminated during that period.

The original named plaintiff, Brenda Koehler, claims she fell victim to systematic national origin bias at Infosys when she was passed over for a position for which she was qualified in favor of a Bangladeshi person. Kelly Parker, Layla Bolten and Gregory Handloser were added as plaintiffs to the suit in September 2013.

In a second amended complaint filed in September 2014 the plaintiffs say that Infosys’ workforce — roughly 90 percent made up of South Asians, which make up only 1 to 2 percent of the U.S. population, they say — is a result of the company’s intentional employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian, including in hiring, promotion, compensation and termination.

They also claim Infosys has “gone to great lengths” to obtain the disproportionate workforce by engaging in visa fraud to bring South Asians, mostly Indians, to the U.S. to replace non-South Asians.

“Affirmative action documents that contain no relevant analysis do not liberate plaintiffs from the relevance and reliability demands of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,” Infosys said, in court, on Monday.

“Nor does a ‘supplemental’ report from [plaintiffs’ expert] Dr. [David] Neumark that variously repeats and acknowledges flaws in his original report provide the missing evidence of ‘commonality’ across the proposed 75,000-person class,” Infosys added.

In December, the lawyers of Infosys had argued in Wisconsin’s Eastern District not to grant the plaintiffs’ request to rule that they have satisfied their “prima facie case” of establishing a pattern and practice of discrimination, saying they rely exclusively on the various analyses of their expert witness, Dr. David Neumark, and cite no case law to support their request.

Specifically, Infosys cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1977 ruling in International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. United States, under which a plaintiff’s initial burden is to establish a prima facie case that a discrimination policy existed before the burden then shifts to the employer to defeat the claim by showing that the proof is either inaccurate or insignificant, reported Law360.

Infosys also told the court in September that it is entitled to summary judgment, saying the premise of the case, that an Indian company’s “adverse” treatment of four people who filed the complaint from four different locations could only be explained by a centralized practice of reverse discrimination, does not fit the evidence.

None of the individual claims, which range from failure to hire to hostile work environment to discriminatory discharge, that were filed by the plaintiffs hold up to undisputed evidence, Infosys argued, reported Law360.

The company also said the statistics on the racial composition of Infosys’s U.S. workforce included in the complaint fail to show that it discriminated against the plaintiffs and that the accusation that it favored visa-holding applicants doesn’t hold water, either.

Infosys is represented by Ellen E. Boshkoff, Rozlyn M. Fulgoni-Britton, George A. Stohner, Gregory P. Abrams, Lindsey M. Hogan and Dulaney Lucetta Pope of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

 

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