HCL HCL Technologies (Photo: Courtesy photo).

 

HCL Technologies Ltd., an information technology outsourcing firm based in India with U.S. headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, faces a lawsuit claiming that the company favors South Asians in its hiring and promotion practices.

The class action complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claims that at least 70 percent of HCL’s U.S.-based workforce is South Asian, primarily from India. That percentage, according to the lawsuit, greatly outpaces the number of people of South Asian ancestry in the U.S. population (1 to 2 percent) and the U.S. IT workforce (about 12 percent).

“This grossly disproportionate workforce is the result of HCL’s intentional pattern and practice of employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian, including discrimination in hiring, promotion, and termination decisions,” wrote plaintiffs attorney Daniel Low of Kotchen & Low in Washington, D.C.

Low, who has pursued similar claims against Indian multinationals Infosys Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., said by email Thursday that he learned about HCL’s practices while litigating one of the other cases.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Reese Voll, a Texas resident who previously worked for HCL on a team tasked with revamping the technology infrastructure for PepsiCo. Voll claims that though he had been promised when hired that he would work on accounts besides Pepsi’s, he was instead placed on an unallocated status, or “benched” in the parlance of HCL, after wrapping up his Pepsi work. Per company policy, after 30 days on the bench, he was let go. He claims that he hasn’t been hired back to any of the multiple positions for which he’s applied.

According to the lawsuit, HCL has a “a systematic, company-wide, pattern” of discriminating in favor of South Asian workers located overseas, securing H-1B and L-1 visas and then prioritizing their use to staff U.S. positions. The suit also claims that HCL seeks out and prefers South Asians tech workers already residing in the United States by relying on a network of South Asian recruiters. The suit also claims that the company promotes South Asians at a disproportionate rate and is more likely to fire non-South Asians.

The suit seeks to certify a class of “all individuals who are not of South Asian race” who applied for HCL jobs in the U.S. and weren’t hired, as well as those who were employed by HCL and passed over for promotions or were fired.

A representative for the company did not respond to messages Thursday.

Read the complaint: