Lawsuit Alleges Anti-American Bias by Indian Managers in U.S.

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A legal immigrant is suing an Indian outsourcing firm for allegedly violating U.S. workplace laws and anti-discrimination laws — and is also spotlighting claims the H-1B visa worker program is wrecking U.S. professionals’ workplaces from coast to coast.

Nitin Degaonkar is an Indian business executive who has a green card and is a legal immigrant with full legal rights against age and national discrimination.

He claims in his lawsuit that Infosys “discriminatingly denied me fair, well-deserved, and rightful opportunities of work, positions, commensurate compensations, promotions, salary raise and opportunities of career advancement on the basis of my national origin as a US Worker, a Protected Individual and my Age.”

Infosys Ltd. is one of the earliest and largest Indian outsourcing companies. It makes money for its shareholders by providing cheap Indian visa workers to take college-level jobs in U.S. companies. 

Degaonkar’s lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas alleges he was hired by Infosys in January 2017 but was “benched” while Infosys sent imported Indian H-1B workers to fill jobs at U.S. based companies. 

I was denied my rights of working on the projects for a long period of five months and several Nonimmigrant H1-B Visa employees were deployed by Defendant 1 [Infosys]  … and almost all such vacancies were filled with Nonimmigrant H1-B Visa employees with false LCAs [federal documents] by Infosys. 

Hundreds of Nonimmigrant H1-B workers have been assigned projects in a continued manner for month after month and year after year all along [instead of U.S. workers]

Defendants have discriminatingly and illegally appointed several Nonimmigrant H1-B Visa employees who have less qualifications and less work experience than me at higher job levels and at higher salaries than me.

Upon information and belief, I allege that almost all these vacancies have been filled with the Nonimmigrant employees by Defendant 1 by making false claims in the Labor Condition Applications made to the USCIS, required under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The company also allegedly excluded Americans from a benefit program provided to Indian workers, the lawsuit says:

Infosys has facilities of loans to employees, in particular, the loan scheme for the purchase of vehicle. However, the facility is made exclusive for the NonImmigrant H1-B Visa employees; the US Workers cannot avail this facility.

Infosys repeatedly declined to answer questions from Breitbart News.

Infosys makes most of its U.S. revenue by importing and renting many thousands of Indian H-1B visa-workers to U.S. companies at prices far above the salaries paid to the Indian workers. The company also uses L-1 visa-workers, Indians with STEM-OPT work permits, and it recently paid a fine in California for allegedly using roughly 500 visitors with B-1 visas to perform work. The company has also begun using TN visas to import Indians living in Mexico or Canada.

There are no legal limits on the number of visa workers that can be imported by Infosys and other outsourcing companies nor any rule to ensure the companies hire Americans before importing workers.

Infosys is part of the hidden U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy where U.S. and Indian companies employ roughly 1.5 million legal foreign white collar visa workers, including about 900,000 Indian graduates. This huge visa worker population augments the growing population of college-trained legal immigrants and illegal migrants — and it has pushed huge numbers of American graduates out of jobs and also suppressed their wages.

For example, this outsourcing economy has dramatically shifted the demographics of the U.S. workforce and has even made U.S.-born workers a minority in some areas, such as Silicon Valley.

The outsourcing strategy makes sense for the companies and investors — U.S. companies get relatively cheap Indian workers, and Indian and U.S. shareholders gain U.S. revenue and profits.

This hidden economy also gives U.S.-based Indian managers huge power over their workers. They can offer Indian workers the opportunity of a lifetime — jobs in the United States that offer pay far above Indian wages, and also offer the chance of winning the huge prize of U.S green cards. Those green cards are especially valuable because they provide U.S. citizenship for the Indian workers, plus their spouses, parents, children, and grandchildren.

But that four-cornered deal has been a disaster for millions of American graduates who have been pushed out of jobs and careers, despite their college debts and the cost of raising their families.

Breitbart News has spoken to numerous Indian and U.S. employees who describe India’s workplace culture as exploitative, discriminatory, and illegal under U.S. laws. The Indian and U.S. workers have declined to talk on the record.

These employees have told Breitbart the most-skilled Americans cannot persuade Indian managers to hire them — because even the least-skilled Indian job-seekers will work longer hours for less money, and will travel from one contract job to another without complaint to the media or to senior managers.

U.S. graduates also get sidelined because they cannot be trusted to accept Indian-style office culture, in which employees are often pressured to provide kickbacks to the managers and to minimize criticism of bad decisions, especially if the Indian managers belong to a higher caste. Other barriers to hiring, say Indians and Americans, is that Americans demand English be the normal language for workplace conversations, and may blow the whistle on the Indian managers who are quietly rewarded by their senior managers for importing more Indian workers into each American workplace.

“Indians hire Indians,” U.S. graduates tell Breitbart News.

“I get a phone call from an Indian [hiring manager], and he says, ‘I have this role [temporary job for you] at this bank,” one female American consultant in New York told Breitbart News.

The hiring manager worked for a contract-labor firm that provides regulatory-compliance experts to U.S. banks. “It turned out the [Indian] hiring manager is working with this [Indian bank manager] guy, so I was supposed to be paid a thousand [dollars] and to pay this guy $200 a day,” she said. She was desperate for the job, and so she agreed to pay the kickback, she said. But, she added, “I was pushed out the door — again, another Indian H-1B came on board — and I was let go after three months.”

“I have a lot of Indian friends who are wonderful, hard-working people. But I know a lot of Americans, and we can’t get jobs [because] all the jobs are taken over by Indian [visa workers],” she said, adding, “I’ve had Indians interview me [for a job] and they would not shake my hand.”

Americans’ resumes rarely reach hiring managers in Silicon Valley firms because Indian hiring managers push fellow Indians to the head of the line, said John from Silicon Valley. “If you look around the Valley, everyone in H.R. is Indian … It just amazes me how obvious this is — it is just right out in the open,” he said. “If you say anything about it, they shut you down … so you can’t really talk about it.”

Indian managers are allowed to take over U.S. offices because of “corporate greed — [U.S. executives] do not care about the employees anymore,” said Jim from Texas:

It is all about the bottom line. The vice-president promises his manager; ‘I’m going to reduce costs and employees so that our stockholders can look at how much money they are making’ … It is now flooded so much to a point where it makes it difficult to have a career — I have not had a raise in six years.

Jay Palmer, a U.S. worker whose job as transferred to Indian workers, is helping Degaonkar and other Indian-born workers claim their legal rights in U.S. courts. Palmer declined to comment, but emailed a statement to Breitbart News, “I am very proud of our great President, Ivanka, and Jared Kushner in regards to Friday’s Executive Order On Human Trafficking (TVPA) which will help eradicate “Forced Labor” in our great country.”

But Indians are also frozen out of U.S. jobs by Indian managers once they get green cards. They get excluded because legal immigrants can denounce abusive managers, and can sue managers who demand who violated U.S. laws. “Once they are Ameican, they’re toast,” said Kevin Lynn, founder of Progressives for Immigration reform. Indian managers “can’t exploit them,” he said, except by using them to help flood the labor market and so depress graduates’ salaries.

Degaonkar is a legal American immigrant because he has a green card. In his lawsuit, he said his forced unemployment was accompanied by discriminatory insults from an Infosys manager working at another U.S. company:

From August 2018 till now, on at least six occasions … the manager in charge of Infosys staff at [at the U.S. company](who himself is a Nonimmigrant employee), has mocked me with sarcastic and insulting comments about my age.

The last incident … took place on September 25, 2019 at about 4:30 PM. The Infosys employees present at the display stall of Infosys were going to take a group picture but Hanuman Gadepalli (Industry Principal of Infosys [working at the U.S> company]) told me not to be in the picture and he told me that he is asking me to move away because of my age. As Hanuman has repeatedly mocked and insulted me with this type of comments about my age, and the incident …  was even more humiliating, I requested Hanuman to be aside and asked him – why he is making such comments on my age again and again and expressed my displeasure. He responded with a retort-like question to me as whether I was looking for trouble.

On Sunday, November 10, 2019 at around 9:00 PM, I received a phone call from Mr. Dhiraj Tarimela of Infosys, the project manager for the project I was working on … who informed me that [the U.S. company] has instructed to remove me from the project assignment with immediate effect.

This hostile work environment is becoming commonplace in the United States because many U.S. investors have hired Infosys and other outsourcing companies to replace more than 1 million American managers and graduates with imported Indian contract-workers, said Lynn.

Americans’ professional culture “has been replaced by an Indian caste system,” where Americans are the discriminated outsiders, he said. “They’re the outsiders; they don’t know the social cues, the pecking order … our meritocracy has been replaced by a caste system,” he said.

“Workplace rights have been pushed back 100 years with regard to job security, wage growth, benefits, and access to the employment laws,” he said, adding that many Americans have also been pushed out of jobs by Chinese visa workers.

This workplace transformation is happening because Congress allows U.S. managers and shareholders to use the H-1B program and OPT program to hire Indian managers and workers for a growing share of their companies’ critical functions. Those tasks include software design, accounting, finance, and operations centers, Lynn said. U.S. executives “are the ones driving it,”

But the Indian managers abuse their helpless H-1B workers partly because they are also under constant pressure from their managers, directors, and shareholders, said an Indian professional who has worked for an outsourcing company.

The Indian managers “find it is very soft [easy] to deal with the people who are H-1B  dependent employees,” he said. Those Indian workers accept the abuse, he said, because they “are also very much willing to do everything that they can in terms of getting a far larger kind of earning, as compared to what they get in India.”

“They’re young, they’re more interested in saving as much money as they can in whatever time they’re able to spend here, so they will go through it,” he said.

This inequality of power means that U.S.-style professionalism — where people are rated for their work contributions — is rare in H-1B workplaces, the Indian professional said. “Some of these [H-1B] employees, in order to keep going with the job and prospects in the U.S., or get good performance ratings, will even present costly gifts to the managers during Diwali [an annual Hindu festival] or anytime, with something like iPads, or an Apple watch.”

The critical factor is the huge premium that Indian workers earn by taking Americans’ jobs in the United States, he said. 

U.S. wages are far higher than Indian wages so that H-1B workers can be set for life after just a few years in the United States, he said. “So, it’s just to give you an example, when we spend $20 for one haircut here, you can have haircuts — with a tip to the barbershop — for the entire year in India,” he said. 

“If you are a bachelor, everyone is interested in you,” when the H-1B workers return to India, he said. “You will have a car, you can have your own apartment … You can not only get a good wife, you can win … a great dowry also [from the wife’s family,” he said, adding, “You are actually like a Maharajah.”

But the abuse also occurs between Indian subgroups that Americans cannot even recognize, he said. Indian-run workplaces in the United States are often fractured along the lines of India’s regional and caste splits, he said. For example, Infosys used many managers from the Telegu and Tamil regions of Indian, he said, “and they speak their own unique [regional] languages which you and I cannot make head or tail of.”

The Telegu and Tamil managers favor people from their own regions, he said, and so “they will always have a tendency to have their own boss or their own team members.” These regional groups favor their members regardless of professional expertise, he said. “Obviously — It goes without saying.”

For example, this regional nepotism often decides which H-1B workers get sponsored for a green card via the EB, or ‘Employer-Based’ green card process, he said:

Everyone will try to get [a] green card …  but 90 percent cannot get green cards. Only 10 or 20 percent can get green cards. Because, you know, again, there is a bias [about who is sponsored] … There was someone telling me that ‘You know this Telegu guy, he came here one year back, and he’s already filed his I-140,’ which means [the company] has already recommended him for the green card. Because Telegu.

So I must say [from a manager’s perspective] those who are nice with you, or maybe are your cousin or distant cousin, or are married to your cousin, they will get a green card, or [someone who] is willing to marry your cousin [so she can get a green card], will get it. There are so many equations in these and it all is so ugly at times, it’s better not to know about it. Ignorance is bliss. 

This Indian workplace culture may hit 5 million American graduates because many American companies are hiring Indian managers to import H-1Bs, he said.

Many of the H-1Bs are used to export white-collar jobs back to India. For example, the New York Times reported how Toys “R” Us company used just eight Indian visa workers to outsource much of its 67-person computer department to India:

By late June, eight workers from the outsourcing company, Tata Consultancy Services, or TCS, had produced intricate manuals for the jobs of 67 people, mainly in accounting. They then returned to India to train TCS workers to take over and perform those jobs there. The Toys “R” Us employees in New Jersey, many of whom had been at the company more than a decade, were laid off.

Managers ignore American workplace laws with “brazenness and indifference to the things that they can get away with because nobody’s going to talk about it,” he said.

The managers would stop if the law were enforced, he said, but the U.S. government “is not serious about it.”

Indians’ office culture has been described in lawsuitsU.S. government documents, and embassy reports, and the U.S. Department of Justice. The topic is described and debated by academics, plaintiffsIndiansReddit chatrooms, article commenters, and Public Radio International.

The anti-American hiring behavior is alleged in numerous lawsuits. A ComputerWorld report about a 2016 lawsuit by four American plaintiffs reported:

David Neumark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, analyzed Infosys’ U.S. workforce for the plaintiffs and wrote a 76-page report filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, where the case is being heard …

One plaintiff was hired by Infosys to work on a $49.5 million Affordable Care Act, government-funded development project for the District of Columbia. There were about 100 Infosys employees working on the healthcare project, but only three were American, the lawsuit claimed. The plaintiff alleged harassment, and was denied promotion, the complaint said.

Neumark brought a statistical analysis to the discrimination claim. Specifically, the economist wrote, “from 2009 through 2015, 89.39% of Infosys’ United States workforce was South Asian while only 11.45% of the United States’ Computer Systems Design and Related Services industry was South Asian.”

Lynn’s point about routine EEOC violation is illustrated by another lawsuit filed against Infosys in 2018 by Subash Thayyullthil. That lawsuit claimed that Infosys violated workplace rules against retaliation and visa rules, and it was settled out of court, one source told Breitbart News.

Thayyulthil was hired in 2000, and he was working in the United States with an L-1 work-visa when the alleged violations occurred. The lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas said, “Plaintiff returned from FMLA leave on or about August 2017 and then filed a written complaint detailing the visa fraud/misuse. On or about August 31, 2017 Defendant Infosys terminated Plaintiffs employment.”

American opposition to H-1B outsourcing has been galvanized by Sen. Mike Lee’s S.386 bill. The Utah GOP Senator’s bill would supercharge the abuse by Indian managers at U.S. companies to deliver green cards and citizenship to roughly 60,000 Indian graduates each year if they take jobs from Americans at low wages. Under current rules, the Indian managers can only provide green cards to about 10,000 Indian workers and roughly 10,000 wives or children.

Lee’s bill is strongly backed by Utah politicians, investors, and universities. — and also by Mike Bloomberg, one of the Democrats competing for the 2020 primary.

The Infosys lawsuit comes as President Donald Trump’s deputies deal with a growing variety of immigration-related white-collar crime, such as the creation of fake resumes by H-1B workers, fake claims of labor shortages, and even fake job offers for the foreign students of U.S. colleges.

Trump is also dealing with anger and disappointment among many Americans graduates who backed him in 2016 because of his promise to curb the very unpopular H-1B program. For example, a Trump statement in March 2016 said:

The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements.

In 2017, the DoJ warned employers, including Indian employers, that:

The Justice Department cautioned employers petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers. The warning came as the federal government began accepting employers’ H-1B visa petitions for the next fiscal year.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

White collar immigration crime “is something that it’s something that we certainly take seriously.” the acting head of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency told Breitbart News January 23. But, he added, “Congress also has the ability to prioritize what gets done by providing us resources to do address certain criminal activity. They’ve done it in the drug space, they’ve got it in other realms. That can be done here.”

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, create an alert for “Neil Munro, immigration,” and email the author at NMunro@Breitbart.com

 


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