Infosys, India's second-largest software exporter, faces a lawsuit in the US that alleges discrimination against American job applicants in favour of South Asians, a charge the company has strongly denied.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Eastern Wisconsin by Brenda Koehler on August 1, 2013, charges Infosys of engaging in "systematic, company-wide discrimination against individuals based upon their national origin".
Koehler, a US citizen, said in the law suit she applied for a position at Infosys and met the requirements for the job that were posted by the company.
"Infosys discriminated against Koehler, choosing to hire an individual of South Asian descent for the position," it added.
In her complaint, plaintiff (Koehler) said: "Specifically, Infosys has discriminated against individuals who are not of South Asian (including but not necessarily limited to India, Nepal, Bangladesh) descent."
When contacted, an Infosys spokesperson said Infosys is an equal opportunity employer. "We categorically deny Koehler's claims. We look forward to addressing this matter in court, not in public venues where facts can become mixed with rumour, opinion and speculation.
"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 spokesperson added.
The suit further says that "Infosys's discrimination against Koehler was not an isolated event; Infosys has engaged in a systemic pattern and practice of discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian descent in hiring".
Accordingly, the plaintiff has sought a class action status in the suit. A class action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a group of defendants is being sued.
Kohler's complaint further adds: "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)."
Last year, Infosys's faced a lawsuit from its former US employee Satya Dev Tripuraneni accusing the firm of harassing him after he blew the whistle on the alleged abuse of US visa rules by the company. It was withdrawn following successful mediation.
Similarly, last year, a US court had dismissed the whistle-blower harassment charges against the Indian IT major filed by Jack Palmer as it found no basis to support any of the allegations.
Lawsuit comes at a time when the USD 108 billion Indian IT-ITeS sector, which drives about 61 per cent of its revenues from the US, face the US Immigration Reforms Bill, that can restrict the number of H1B visas thus forcing IT firms like TCS, Infosys and Wipro to hire more local US employees.