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Lawsuit: Infosys abuses visas to discriminate against US staff

Claims 90% of US staff is made up of Asian immigrants

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A class-action lawsuit filed against IT outsourcing firm Infosys claims that the company is systematically abusing the visa system and actively discriminates against hiring US workers for staff position.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Eastern Wisconsin by VMware specialist Brenda Koehler, claims that up to 90 per cent of US staff at Infosys are not local hires, according to a former Infosys employee. These staff are either brought in under the H1-B visa program or work illegally under B-1 business visas, the suit claims.

"Infosys has reached this grossly disproportionate workforce by directly discriminating against individuals who are not of South Asian decent in hiring, by abusing the H-1B visa process to bring workers of South Asian descent into the country rather than hiring qualified individuals already in the United States, and by abusing the B-1 visa system to bring workers of South Asian descent into the United States to perform work not allowed by their visa status rather than hiring individuals already in the United States to perform the work," it states.

The lawsuit claims that Koehler, who holds both a BA and MA in computer science and is an experienced network specialist, applied for a job with the firm. During the interview, which was rescheduled at the last minute, her interviewer falsely claimed that she had no experience in key areas such as Microsoft's Active Directory, and the job was given to an engineer from Bangladesh.

This kind of practice, along with claims from other former staff, is indicative of a deeply discriminatory culture within the Indian-owned company, the lawsuit claims. One ex–staff member, Jay Palmer, who brought a failed legal action against the firm, claims he was repeatedly called a "stupid American" and saw staff writing "No Americans/Christians" on a board during a meeting.

Palmer also claimed that Infosys was hiring staff in Asia to come to the US on B-1 visas, which are designed to let foreign nationals enter the country for conferences and meetings. He claimed the company would ask staff to falsify letters of invitation to events in order to get enter into the US.

The lawsuit asks for an injunction against Infosys hiring more staff until claims of discrimination are worked out and for the company to be ordered to find a "valid" way of hiring US workers.

"Infosys is an equal opportunities employer, and we categorically deny Ms. Koehler claims," Infosys spokeswoman Danielle D’Angelo told El Reg.

"We look forward to addressing this matter in court and not in public venues where facts can be mixed with rumor and speculation," she said. ®

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