US jury clears Tata Consultancy Services of hiring bias claim
29 November 2018
In a major victory for Tata Consultancy Services, India’s top software service provider, a jury in California on Wednesday rejected claims that the company discriminated against American workers to employ Indians in its US offices.
A federal jury in Oakland, California, rejected claims by four former employees of TCS who claimed they’d been sidelined and fired because they aren’t South Asian and accepted TCS argument that non-cooperation by the employees was the cause of their rejection.
The plaintiffs tried to push through their arguments of racial bias citing statistical evidence that that since 2011, the company fired 12.6 per cent of its non-South Asian workers in the US, compared with less than 1 per cent of its South Asian employees.
TCS said its termination decisions are less than one in a billion. The company’s attorneys argued the company had no incentive to discriminate, having spent millions of dollars on building a local talent pool in the US. These employees were terminated because they were unwilling to move to cities in the US where TCS needed more engineers, the company said.
“We have always maintained the claims made in this case were baseless, and we are gratified that the jury agreed,” Ben Trounson, a spokesman for TCS, said in an emailed statement after the verdict. “The decisions we make about the hiring and retention of employees are based purely on their abilities and fit to serve our clients’ specific needs.”
TCS employs more than 400,000 people worldwide. Most of its revenue comes from the US, and its primary customers are in the financial services sector.
The verdict comes as great relief for Indian outsourcing industry which depends heavily on Indian skills because of a lack of similar skills in the United States.
Other Indian companies such as Infosys Ltd, HCL Technologies and Wipro Ltd face similar allegations of hiring bias that favour South Asians
The outcome of the case, the first of several accusing Indian IT firms of hiring bias against Americans, is some solace for the industry that has increasingly been facing regulatory constraints in the US.
The trial had cast a spotlight on work-visa programmes that companies use to bring overseas workers to the US, a practice President Donald Trump had cited in his protectionist push.
The ex-employees who sued had accused TCS of a “systematic pattern and practice of discrimination” by favoring Indian ex-pats and visa-ready workers from India for US positions. They say that South Asians account for almost 80 per cent of the IT workforce employed by Indian IT companies in the US against the 12 per cent representation of the US IT workforce.