indica News Bureau-
Wipro is facing a fresh class-action suit initiated by five of its former employees in the United States alleging the company practices discriminatory policies in promotions, hikes, and termination of employment against employees who are not of South Asian or Indian origin.
The suit was filed in March of 2020 in the district court of New Jersey. The plaintiffs have sought ‘injunctive, declaratory, equitable, and monetary relief for Wipro’s systematic pattern and practice of discriminatory employment practices based upon individuals’ race and national origin, reported Trak.
Wipro has over 160,000 workers worldwide, including over 14,000 employees in the United States. Wipro is consistently one of the top five H-1B visa recipients.
According to the suit, the 5 former employees of Wipro, Gregory MacLean, Rick Valles, Ardeshir Pezeshki, James Gibbs and Ronald Hemenway, have alleged ‘discrimination’ against who are not of South Asian and Indian origin. All five former employees are US citizens. While MacLean (a resident of California), Gibbs (Tennessee) and Hemenway (Florida) are of the Caucasian race, Valles from California is from the Hispanic race, while Pezeshki from California is of Iranian origin.
The suit plaintiffs allege that “Wipro operates under a general policy of discrimination in favor of South Asians and against individuals who are not South Asian and not Indian. This general policy of discrimination manifests itself in the same general fashion with respect to Wipro’s hiring, staffing, promotion, and termination decisions”. They have also sought for a jury trial in the case. Because of Wipro’s preference for South Asians and Indians, these individuals are regularly awarded higher appraisal scores, compared to their non-South Asian and non-Indian colleagues. Additionally, some non-South Asian and non-Indian individuals are never given appraisal scores at all,” alleged plaintiffs.
The suit also claims that while only about 12% of the United States’ IT industry (the industry in which Wipro operates) is South Asian, at least 80% (or more) of Wipro’s United States workforce is South Asian (primarily from India).
The class-action lawsuit seeks Wipro to adopt a valid, non-discriminatory method for hiring, promotion, termination, and other employment decisions.
The plaintiffs also alleged that Wipro submits visa petitions for more positions than actually exist in the US. This is allegedly done in order to maximize its chances of securing the highest number of available H-1B visas from the lottery process.
The lawsuit reads, “In this way, Wipro has been able to secure visas for far more individuals than it actually has a present need for. For example, in 2015, Wipro received 5,968 new visas, while in 2016, it received 6,831 new visas – far more positions that could actually exist given that Wipro employs less than 15,000 individuals in the United States.”
Alleging that Wipro gives preference to South Asian and Indian applicants located in the US over non-South Asian and non-Indian applicant, the lawsuit says that “on information and belief, both Wipro’s internal recruiters and its third-party recruiters give preference to locating and recruiting South Asian and Indian candidates, who are then given preference throughout the hiring process.”
These employees who worked for Wipro in the US at different time points over the last decade, have sought the court to classify the suit as a ‘class action’ in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and a permanent injunction from engaging in unlawful policies, along with an order to adopt a valid, non-discriminatory method for hiring, promotion, termination, and other employment decisions.
Last year in December, another African- American employee had filed a suit against the company for employment termination on the basis of his race and sought compensation for the duress caused as a result of the company’s actions. “Wipro does not comment on pending litigation,” the company said in response to Business Today.