Indian IT major Tata Consultancy Services has been sued by a former employee in the United States for racial discrimination against non-South Asian and non-Indian applicants and employees. 

Shawn Katz, a former TCS employee, was the complainant in the class action lawsuit against the IT firm.  The complainant, Katz, was with TCS for nine years before being let go. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on December 7. The lawsuit claims that TCS has a systematic pattern of discriminating against non-South Asian and non-Indian applicants and employees “concerning hiring, staffing, benching, termination, and promotion decisions” and that this policy is implemented top-down at the company.

TCS dealt with a similar lawsuit in 2015, and it subsequently won the case in 2018. At the time, the jury determined that TCS did not have a “pattern or practice” of discriminating against non-South Asian workers.

While other members are attached to the class action, Katz says that the exact number of members of this proposed class action is unknown and can be determined using TCS records. 

Katz’s case

Katz claimed that despite meeting the qualifications for promotion for several years, he was never promoted during his nine-year tenure at the company but was moved to the bench and fired. 

According to the suit, while South Asians make 12-13 per cent of the US tech workforce, 70 per cent of TCS US employees are South Asian. 

“TCS’s discrimination is systemic and ongoing and impacts non-South Asians and non-Indians across the company, as well as applicants, who are disfavored in TCS’s hiring, staffing, promotion, and termination/retention decisions,” the complaint reads.

Related Stories
Where’s the next TCS, Infy or Wipro?
IT’s success. The massive growth in global captive centres in India can prove to be a mixed blessing

The suit alleges discrimination in hiring. While hiring cannot be based on race and nationality, the complaint states that TCS talent acquisition and third-party vendors are encouraged to hire employees of Indian origin. Non-Indian and non-South Asian candidates are frequently passed over for open positions and not hired due to this discriminatory practice, according to the lawsuit. This affects existing employees as well since they have to take part in the same hiring process as new applicants and compete with them to be staffed on new projects. 

Visa status

According to the lawsuit, TCS falsifies employee roles listed on H-1B and L-1A (managerial roles) visa applications, uses this to maximise visa approvals and uses these people to perform low-level and non-managerial work in the US. The company also prioritises the placement of individuals on visas in US jobs, the lawsuit added. The lawsuit also contends that TCS “disproportionately awards” these employees higher appraisal scores and promotes them more frequently than non-Indian and non-South Asian employees to maximise time on the visa.

As a result, most upper management is of South Asian origin. To maintain visa status, the IT major quickly assigns South Asian employees to new projects while non-South Asian staff stays on the bench. “This results in non-South Asians and non-Indians being hired at lower rates, but also being fired at disproportionately higher rates.”

The relief sought includes directing TCS to adopt a valid and non-discriminatory method for hiring, promotion, termination, and other employment decisions, not to retaliate against individuals who complain of racial discrimination, awarding damages as well as front and back pay, and more.

Related Stories
Now, TCS to launch mental health companion app
By taking a gamified approach, it aims to reduce the stress and anxiety levels of users

When contacted TCS said, “As per policy, we can’t comment on subjuidice matters.”