A federal judge in Oakland recently decided that claims of hiring discrimination against an Indian technology firm can go forward in court. The lead plaintiff sued Tata Consultancy Services in April, alleging that the company discriminates against non-South Asian workers.

The lead plaintiff alleges that Tata is discriminatory in three ways: it hires 95 percent of its workers on H1-B, L-1 and B-1 visas, most of whom are from India; it hires a disproportionate number of local South Asian workers; and discriminates against non-South Asians in promotions and firings. According to the plaintiff, the company made over $13 billion in profit last year, much of which came from business in the United States.

The plaintiff claims that during his employment with the company, 99 percent of the workers were South Asian. The South Asian workers were given more substantive duties than him, and they were allowed to move vertically into other jobs within the company. The plaintiff claims that within a week after beginning his work with Tata, he was removed from his position and given one with lesser duties. A few months later he was removed from his major account and given no more client work. He claims his boss told him it would be difficult to find him a new position within the company because he was American.

He was later assigned to the Louisville office, but was then sent back to California and spent more than $21,000 in moving expenses. When he asked his employer for reimbursement, he was told that “Americans needed to stop being so selfish and demanding.” The employer also told the plaintiff that he didn’t like dealing with Americans because they tried to “exercise their rights” and that Americans did not perform their jobs correctly.

The plaintiff also alleges that in 2013, he had a conversation with another manager who had an open position in his group. The manager told the plaintiff that he was waiting for a South Asian employee to become available to take the position, refusing to hire an American The plaintiff was finally assigned to another project within the company, and was the only non-South Asian out of 100 employees. He subsequently removed from that project and was terminated in 2014.

The company claims the allegations are baseless and it insists on defending against the lawsuit. The plaintiff is asking that the lawsuit be certified as a class action, and that he be awarded back pay and other damages in addition to punitive damages.

If the allegations are true, the company may have committed illegal discrimination against the plaintiff and other Americans at the company. Under federal and state law, discrimination against an employee or potential employee because of his or her national origin is illegal. National origin discrimination involves treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country, due to their accent or ethnicity, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background, even if they are not. It is also illegal to harass a person because of his or her national origin. Harassment can include offensive remarks about a person’s national origin, accent, or ethnicity. However, simple teasing or isolated incidents that are not very serious are not illegal. Victims of national origin discrimination and harassment can sue for damages, including lost wages, benefits, emotional distress, and more.

If you believe you have been discriminated against at work because of your national origin, you should consult with an attorney. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no one should be discriminated against because they are from a certain country – instead, what should matter is job performance. Call Oakland National Origin discrimination attorney Micha Star Liberty at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the Oakland-San Francisco area, including Tracy, Hayward, Fairfield, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas.

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