IT major Infosys is facing a class-action lawsuit in the US for alleged racial discrimination in hiring.

According to documents filed in a US court by Wisconsin-based IT professional Brenda Koehler, she had applied for a job as a certified network engineer working on VMware or Windows, but was denied that opportunity. The suit alleges that Brenda was asked during the interview about other subjects including DNS and Active Directory. Though she gave in-depth answers, she claimed the interviewers said she had no active Directory experience. The suit claims Brenda was later rejected and Infosys continued to interview candidates eventually hiring a candidate of South Asian descent.

According to the court filings, Koehler has 17 years of experience in information systems, and two degrees, including a Masters in Science from the University of Wisconsin.

In her complaint to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Brenda has asked that a class-action lawsuit be allowed against Infosys, with ‘thousands’ of potential plaintiffs in the case, for hiring discrimination, which goes against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Micheal Brown of law firm Peterson Berk and Cross (PBC), along with attorneys Daniel Kotchen and Robert Klinck (of Kotchen & Low LLP) and Vonda K. Vandaveer (of V. K. Vandaveer P.L.L.C, a Washington-based immigration law firm), are representing Koehler. When contacted, an Infosys spokesperson said: “Infosys is an equal opportunity employer. We categorically deny Koehler’s claims.” The spokesperson added that 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.

Further, the filings point out that of the 15,000 employees based in the US, 90 per cent are of South Asian origin. In July 2012, the company opened a centre in Wisconsin, with a seating capacity of 125, to support Harley Davidson, one of its key clients.

This, the complaint alleged, is a result of Infosys abusing its H1-B visa, an issue over which the company is still being probed by the Department of Homeland Security.

venkatesh.ganesh@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 6, 2013)
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