Infosys rejects racism charge by ex-staffer in US

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Bengaluru, June 13 (IANS) A former woman employee of global software major Infosys has filed a lawsuit in a US court, alleging racial discrimination against her by the company as an act of retaliation.
“Plaintiff Davina Linguist of African-American origin demanded a trial by jury for alleged retaliation by Infosys after she testified against it in another lawsuit in October 2016,” said the US Eastern District Court of Texas on the lawsuit accessed by IANS.
Denying the charge, Infosys said it would defend itself in the matter. “We are aware of the case recently (June 11) filed by Linguist and deny allegations of discrimination and retaliation against her. We will defend in this matter,” said the company in an e-mail to IANS.
The racism charge has come at a time when the US is in the grip of protests against racial discrimination after a 46-year-old African-American (George Floyd) was allegedly killed by a white policeman on May 25 at Minneapolis in Minnesota state.
“We have a policy of treating everyone fairly and providing equal employment opportunity and an inclusive workplace to all,” asserted the city-based outsourcing major.
Davina testified in a case filed by Brenda Koehler, an American job applicant, who accused Infosys of discrimination against local job applicants by favouring workers from South Asia to fill positions in the US.
The $12.8 billion Infosys employs around 20,000 techies in the US, with 90 per cent of them of Indian descent, to service its global clients in the North American market that accounts for about 60 per cent of its software export revenue.
Seeking compensation for the damages, Linguist has alleged soon after her deposition against the company in 2016, she was stripped of her title as the head of diversity recruiting and demoted for improper conduct.
“Subsequently, I was forced to resign from the company on March 7, 2017, as I was demoted to a full-desk recruiter, a position I held in 2012 and prior to becoming the head of the Infosys diversity recruiting programme,” she said.
It’s the second time the company has been accused of racism after October last year, when a letter by an anonymous whistleblower alleged racism and misogynistic charges against its Chief Executive Salil Parkeh along with financial irregularities.
“Linguist has exhausted her administrative remedies and complied with the statutory prerequisites of filing a discrimination complaint against the company with this court and filing a timely claim of discrimination following receipt of a right to sue notice,” said the lawsuit.
A US citizen of the African-American race, Linguist lives in North Richland Hills, Texas.
She also alleged the disproportionate workforce is a result of the company’s intentional employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian or Indian.
“As an Infosys hiring manager acknowledged: “There does exist discrimination. We are advised to hire Indians because they will work off the clock without murmur and they can always be transferred across the nation without hesitation unlike local workforce,” Linguist asserted.
Linguist was responsible for increasing the company’s recruitment and hiring of non-South Asian employees for positions in its US subsidiary.
On October 21, 2016, the company’ subpoenaed Linguist for a deposition in the Koehler litigation. “To intimidate Linguist before her deposition, Infosys’ in-house counsel Shannon D’Jamoos and its employee relations executive Patty Cramer, confronted her about her deposition and attempted to question her about the testimony she would give,” recalled the lawsuit.
During deposition in Koehler case, the company’s counsel attempted to intimidate Linguist by asking her irrelevant and harassing questions about her home life, her family members and where her children live.
On January 31, 2017, Infosys retaliated for Linguist’s participation in the Koehler litigation and for speaking out against its alleged discriminatory employment practices.
Though Linguist challenged her demotion through the internal complaint process, her manager Clint Kelly warned her she would be transferred regardless of her protest.
On February 13, 2017, Linguist received an e-mail from Becky Lowe, Head of Human Resources, that failure to transition to her new role as instructed would constitute insubordination and “may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.”
In her prayer for relief, Linguist sought wages, salary, employment benefits and other compensation denied to her. “Order defendant (Infosys) should pay plaintiff compensatory damages for the harm she suffered,” Linguist said in her plea.