HCL Technologies and its US subsidiary are the target of a class action lawsuit that alleges discrimination against non-South Asian workers and they have also been accused of exploiting the H-1B visa system.
The lawsuit was filed by law firm Kotchen & Low on behalf of Gregory Handloser, who has alleged that HCL denied him employment five times because it favoured Indians and other South Asians.
HCL has been able to secure visas for far more individuals than it actually has a present need for, the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in San Jose last month claimed.
"For example, HCL is consistently one of the top-10 H-1B visa recipients in the US, and from 2015 to 2017, HCL received 10,432 new H-1B visas and 310 L-1 visas, far more positions than could actually exist given that HCL only employs approximately 12,000 individuals in the United States. All, or substantially all, of the individuals for whom HCL secures visas are South Asian," a US-based daily quoted from the lawsuit.
In August, Kotchen & Low had filed a case against HCL Tech on behalf of Reese Voll, a former employee. But the IT services firm won its motion to compel arbitration in the case in January.
The plaintiff in the recent case has also said, "HCL terminates non-South Asians at disproportionately high rates compared to South Asians. HCL has a policy to terminate employees who are on the bench for more than four weeks."
He has also said HCL has an "overwhelmingly disproportionate" workforce in the United States, consisting of approximately 70 per cent or more South Asian employees.
“HCL is currently reviewing the lawsuit and will respond appropriately. The Company takes pride in its employment practices, including the hiring and promotion of a diverse team in its U.S. Subsidiary (HCL, America). It employs 15,000 people in the US with 63 per cent hired locally in the country. As such, HCL intends to vigorously defend itself in this matter," HCL Technologies said in an email response.
The H-1B visa is a temporary work permit that allows highly skilled professionals to travel to the US, and is used extensively by the Indian IT industry.
The H-1B visa has a maximum provision of 65,000 visas and an additional 20,000 for those with a US Master’s degree from an accredited institution.
While Indian IT firms have made efforts to reduce their dependence on the visa, former employees and applicants have accused Indian IT services firms of hoarding H-1B visas and promoting Indians and Asians over others.