Infosys Ltd (NYSE:INFY), India's leading software services provider, on Tuesday, denied claims made by a lawsuit that the company practiced discrimination in its hiring policies in the U.S. by favoring South Asian nationals over other applicants, and said it would fight the matter in court.
Brenda Koehler, a U.S. citizen, filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Eastern Wisconsin on Aug. 1, accusing Infosys of engaging in “systematic, company-wide discrimination against individuals based upon their national origin."
Bangalore-based Infosys, in an official statement, rejected the allegations and said it is an equal opportunity employer.
"We categorically deny Ms. Koehler’s claims. We look forward to addressing this matter in court, not in public venues where facts can become mixed with rumor, opinion and speculation,” Infosys said.
Koehler, in her complaint, said that she applied for a job advertised by the company and met all the criteria specified, but the company hired an individual of South Asian origin for the post.
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Koehler has sought class-action status in the suit, claiming that the discrimination against her was not an isolated event and that the company is engaged in widespread and systemic discrimination favoring job applicants of South Asian origin.
“It is important to understand that 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's statement said.
According to Koehler's complaint, “Infosys employs more than 15,000 individuals in the US and approximately 90 per cent of these employees are of South Asian descent (including individuals of Indian, Nepalese, and Bangladeshi descent).”
The allegations come at a time when Indian IT majors are fighting tough H1-B visa regulations, proposed by U.S. lawmakers as part of a larger landmark immigration bill currently under consideration in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. If passed, the bill would double the cost of processing visas for India's software firms such as Infosys, which rely heavily on short- and long-term work visas for their employees based at client locations in the U.S. Infosys reportedly earns 63 percent of its current total revenue from North America.
Last year, a former employee had charged Infosys of harassing him after he exposed alleged misuse of work visas by the company. The suit was withdrawn after a successful mediation, PTI reported.
In a similar case, in August 2012, a U.S. court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jack Palmer, a U.S. national employed by Infosys in Alabama. Palmer had alleged that the company harassed him after he blew the whistle over alleged abuse of U.S. work visa norms by the company.