U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers denied the motion for a new trial in the Tata Consultancy case, filed by former Tata workers at the Northern District Court of California this past Tuesday, Aug.13.
In November 2018, following a twelve-day trial, a jury of nine rendered a unanimous verdict in favor of the TCS but Christopher Slaight, Seyed Amir Masoudi, and Nobel Mandili, on behalf of themselves and on behalf of others similarly situated, were not convinced with the court verdict.
The former TCS employees claimed disparate treatment when employed by TCS and alleged all individuals who are not of South Asian race or Indian national origin, who were employed by TCS in the United States, were subject to a policy or practice of benching and allocation and were placed in an unallocated status which ended in termination between April 14, 2011, and December 27, 2017.
Plaintiffs’ theory of discrimination relied on their contention that TCS intentionally displaced class members by assigning Indian or South Asian employees to jobs that class members were successfully filling or could have filled, resulting in class members’ terminations from the bench.
Judge Rogers said the workers lost the case not because of an unfair jury or improper evidentiary rulings but because of their expert witness, labor economist David Neumark, who told the jury his data analysis excluded certain employees and thus failed to address the company’s primary defense.
The plaintiffs in the case say that the cross-examination significantly undermined Dr. Neumark’s credibility and his conclusions. This is especially poignant in a case such as this, where the analysis underlying Dr. Neumark’s opinion does not lend itself to an independent evaluation by the jury. Second, shortly thereafter, Dr. Neumark said that he limited the data in his analysis to TCS employees who were merely coded as “unallocated” in TCS’s system and therefore did not consider or account for why the employees whose data was analyzed had become “unallocated.”
Reasonable jurors could easily infer that Dr. Neumark’s statistical analysis chose to ignore the defendant’s primary explanations for the results, namely an employee’s unwillingness to relocate and the lack of suitable qualifications. Finally, several of TCS’s witnesses testified that Dr. Neumark’s U.S. termination rate analysis and the resulting disparities between “local attrition” and “expat attrition” did not reflect an accurate comparison. Specifically, they testified that there is almost no such thing as “expat attrition” in TCS’s U.S. workforce (except in the most extreme circumstances, such as imprisonment or death) because expats’ deputation agreements “prevent them from being terminated in the U.S.”
Judge Rogers believes that the jury paid close attention to the case.
The jury deliberated over two days before rendering a unanimous verdict in favor of TCS. The Court observed during the trial that the jurors worked very hard throughout the trial to determine how to resolve the parties’ factual disputes. They paid close attention to the exhibit screens and the witnesses; many took extensive notes; jurors posed dozens of questions during the trial and the jury deliberated for approximately eight hours.