A group of five former employees of Wipro in the United States has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the Indian IT company of “employment discrimination” against individuals who are not South Asian and who are not of Indian origin.
Headquartered in Bangalore, Wipro has over 160,000 workers worldwide, including over 14,000 employees in the United States.
The lawsuit filed in a District Court in New Jersey claims that while only about 12 per cent of the United States' IT industry (the industry in which Wipro operates) is South Asian, at least 80 per cent (or more) of Wipro's United States workforce is South Asian (primarily from India).
"This grossly disproportionate workforce results from Wipro's intentional pattern and practises of employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian and who are not of Indian national origin, including discrimination in hiring, promotion, and termination decisions, and its use of employment practices that result in a disparate impact on those same groups,” alleges the lawsuit.
When contacted, the company said: "Wipro does not comment on pending litigation".
All five former employees are US citizens. Three of them Gregory MacLean (a resident of California), James Gibbs (Tennessee) and Ronald Hemenway (Florida) are of the Caucasian race. Rick Valles from California is from the Hispanic race, while Ardeshir Pezeshki from California is of Iranian origin.
Demanding a “trial by jury”, the class action lawsuit seeks Wipro to adopt a valid, non-discriminatory method for hiring, promotion, termination, and other employment decisions.
The lawsuit alleges that Wipro operates under a general policy of discrimination in favour 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, the lawsuit alleges.
"To fulfil its employment preference for South Asians and Indians, Wipro seeks to maximize the number of visas it receives each year from the federal government,” it says.
Wipro is consistently one of the top five H-1B visa recipients.
Wipro submits visa petitions for more positions than actually exist in the US in order to maximize its chances of securing the highest number of available H-1B visas from the lottery process, it alleges.
"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,” the lawsuit says.
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.”