Anil Varshney, 78, files lawsuit after being fired, allegedly for speaking Hindi at Alabama office


If you received a call from a dying relative in India while at work, would you have reservations about speaking your native tongue in the office?  Seventy eight year-old Anil Varshney alleges however, that this simple act led to him being fired.

Varshney, a Senior Systems Engineer living in Alabama, worked with the Huntsville Alabama Missile Defense Agency (MDA) since 2002 and worked in conjunction with Parson Corporation contractors since 2011, according to an article by The Juggernaut. He has filed a lawsuit against Parsons for “unlawful discriminatory actions.”

The lawsuit states that in September 2022, Varshney received a video call from his brother-in-law, K. C. Gupta, in India who was on his deathbed and “wanted to say goodbye.”  The call was alleged to last for only two minutes, but a coworker who overheard told Varshney that the video call was prohibited and reported him to superiors.

According to a BBC article, Varshney took the call in an empty cubicle and made sure there were no “classified materials or anything else pertaining to the MDA or Parsons’ work anywhere near him.”  The lawsuit outlined that he only took the call because of the dire circumstances that he “may never have the opportunity to speak to [Gupta] again.” Furthermore, he claimed that there was no company policy against taking the call and that he was promptly fired without investigation in October 2022.

The suit reports that Varshney experienced frequent acts of discrimination based on his ethnicity, from the younger, white employees.  He was alleged to have been excluded from conversations at work and even ignored during meetings.  One example states – “They would use names for Varshney like ‘This Thing’ even when he was sitting right next to them and would complain that they could not understand his Indian accent.”

In a statement to the BBC, the Parsons Corporation said “Mr Varshney was terminated after several security violations, including using Facetime on his personal phone in a government-controlled worksite among other previous security violations where such actions are prohibited and pose risks to national security.”

Conversely, the lawsuit states that the termination was an example of the company’s “systemic discrimination” and that the coworker who reported the call was “intimidated by Varshney speaking in a language he did not understand.”

Varshney reportedly tried to be reestablished at his position but he was unsuccessful.  He filed the lawsuit in June in the Northern District of Alabama.

On July 24, Parsons denied all allegations made by the plaintiff and requested that the case be dismissed with prejudice.  The suit names US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin as a legal representative of the national MDA.

Varshney, who immigrated to the US in 1968 and earned an engineering masters at Oklahoma State University, has stated that he has been blackballed from all MDA work.  Varshney has reportedly requested evidence as to how accepting the call goes against company policy multiple times but was denied by Parsons. The suit states that he seeks reinstatement to a job “comparable to his former position.”

In a statement to Alabama news site, Varshney said, “I love this great country and state, which I have called my home for over 50 years.  I have devoted my life to strengthening the defense of this nation. Our kids, all proud American citizens raised in Alabama, are Rhodes Scholars, senior corporate executives, and physicians.”



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