‘Infosys abused H1-B visa by bringing in South Asians to work in the U.S. instead of hiring qualified American citizens’

The country’s second biggest exporter of software services has been slapped with a class action lawsuit by an American litigant alleging that it has been indulging in “systematic, company-wide discrimination” against non-South Asian country citizens while recruiting people to work for the company in the United States.

The complaint, filed on August 1 in a United States District Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin by Brenda Koehler, alleged that Infosys, by denying her employment, despite her qualification as an IT professional, had violated the U.S. Civil Rights statutes of 1964 and 1991.

Ms. Koehler alleged that her application in April 2012 for a position as a “Lead VMware/Windows administrator” with Infosys was rejected despite her “extensive experience” in the relevant fields.

The complaint, which is in the nature of a class action lawsuit — typically filed against a corporation by a group of litigants with a similar grievance — alleged that Infosys “abused” the H1-B visa by bringing in South Asians to work in the U.S. instead of hiring qualified American citizens.

Ms. Koehler alleged that South Asians account for 90 per cent of Infosys’ workforce of 15,000 in the U.S. She alleged that “this grossly disproportionate” figure was made possible by the company by “abusing” the visa system by either bringing in South Asians instead of employing U.S. citizens or by bringing in South Asians despite their visa status not allowing them to do the kind of work the company needed to do within the U.S.

The compliant quoted statistics from the Association of Information Technology Professionals, according to which only 2 per cent of its membership in 2007 were of South Asian origin, to buttress its claim of “systematic bias” in employment practices at Infosys.

Arguing that the “discrimination” is of a “continuing nature”, the complainant’s class action lawsuit has sought compensation, injunctive relief, punitive damages “to redress Infosys’ pervasive pattern and practice of discriminatory employment policies, practices and employment”.

The complaint is the latest in a series of allegations and probes into Infosys’ use of the visa system in the U.S. An ongoing Federal probe is examining its use of the U.S. visas, and a Department of Homeland Security’s review has detected errors in its Form I-9 filings, which enable verification of the identity and employment authorisation of those hired to work for the company in the U.S.

Denied

Infosys categorically denied Ms. Koehler’s contention. “We look forward to addressing this matter in court, not in public venues where facts can become mixed with rumour, opinion and speculation,” it said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “No proof of class action suitability has been presented and no court has ruled that the case is appropriate for class action treatment,” the company has said.

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