Indian Firm Discriminated Against Non-Indians, Lawsuit ClaimsTop Stories

September 10, 2019 10:52
Indian Firm Discriminated Against Non-Indians, Lawsuit Claims

(Image source from: The Mercury News)

An Indian digital-services company Happiest Minds, which has its headquarters in San Jose, preferred recruiting Indians and South Asian workers for its U.S. jobs and used the H-1B and other visa to accomplish its discrimination, the lawsuit claims.

Happiest Minds, which reportedly employs about 200 workers in the United States, used the H-1B visa and another visa to fill its positions with South Asian workers, most of them Indians, the lawsuit alleged.

San Jose sales professional Tami Sulzberg, who started serving as a director of business development at the company in January 2018 and was fired about four months later, filed the lawsuit.

Sulzberg was allegedly fired to hire an Indian man in that position who was on an L-1 visa, a non-immigrant work permit for managers or executives transferred into the United States from a company’s affiliate office in a foreign country.    

According to the lawsuit, Happiest Minds received 188 new H-1B visas or H-1B visa amendments between 2013 and 2018 and also 12 new L-1 visas in 2018.  

“To fulfill its employment preference for South Asians and Indians, Happiest Minds seeks to maximize the number of visas it receives each year from the federal government,” the suit alleged. “All, or substantially all, of the individuals for whom Happiest Minds secures visas are South Asian and Indian.”

The company reportedly preferred South Asian and Indian workers who can be brought in using a visa. “Similarly, non-South Asian and non-Indian individuals are often displaced from their current positions in favor of South Asian and Indian visa-ready individuals,” the suit alleged.

Read: TCS Discrimination Case: Court Refuses to Open Suit

According to the suit, among 25 salespeople in the firm’s U.S. offices, Sulzberg had been the only non-Indian and the troubles started during a sales meeting about six weeks after she started working there, the suit claimed.

“Ms. Sulzberg was the only female employee at the meeting and the only individual who was non-South Asian and non-Indian,” the suit alleged. “Ms. Sulzberg was excluded by her South Asian colleagues who spoke in Hindi, thereby precluding her from participating in certain conversations, and was specifically asked not to attend the first portion of the meeting involving the whole group.”

At the time of Sulzberg’s presentation at the meeting which was supposed to last for at least an hour, the Happiest Mind’s South Asian chief executive officer impolitely interrupted her, saying he didn’t want to look at her presentation and told her, ‘Move on, move on,’ just after 10 minutes, the suit claimed.

Read: Cognizant to Slash Jobs by October

The CEO also allegedly asked her to book him a hotel room for an upcoming meeting “despite the fact that Ms. Sulzberg’s sales role did not involve such administrative or secretarial responsibilities,” the suit alleged.

Happies Minds as soon as firing Sulzberg, hired a South Asian salesma who according to the suit did not sell new business for the firm in his first year of employment and continues not to miss his sales goals.

The suit sought the approval of judge to hire non-South Asian or Indian origin who applied for jobs at Happiest Minds in the U.S. and weren’t hired, or whom the company involuntarily terminated. In addition, it also sought an order for the company to follow a non-discriminatory method for hiring, firing and other employment-related decisions, as well as unspecified damages.

By Sowmya Sangam

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India  Indians abroad  H1B visa