Saturday, November 28, 2009

Infosys labor lawsuit over overtime pay

Dept of Labor should not find it hard to litigate against Infosys, now that Promila Awasthi has opened a can of works. Time for Infosys managers to take training in US labor laws, business ethics, cultural sensitivity and common-sense. I wonder how much will they settle for this time. The last employee to successfully sue Infosys walked away with a handsome settlement. This case is now going to cast wide aspersions on every Indian manager. If these morons do not know how to do business in the US, they need to get their asses fired. Any local Silicon Valley employees know who was Promila Awasthi's manager ?

NBCBayarea news reports.

Who says you can't celebrate Thanksgiving?

Promila Awasthi, a Silicon Valley computer consultant, says her bosses at Infosys did.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda County Superior Court, Awasthi, an India-born American citizen, says her bosses at Infosys's Fremont ,Calif. office mocked her for observing American holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and refused to pay her overtime according to California law.
The lawsuit is potentially explosive for Infosys, one of a host of India-based information-technology outsourcing firms which take over computing tasks from other companies.
Infosys has been pushing to expand its presence in the United States, both to blunt the political backlash from moving jobs overseas and to gain a commercial advantage by hiring local sales and marketing executives better equipped to take business from the slick sales forces of HP and IBM.
Contrast Infosys's global ambitions with the allegations in Awasthi's lawsuit. She hardly paints a culturally sensitive picture of her former company, where she worked from February to November 2008, at which point she claims "intolerable" working conditions forced her to quit. Here are highlights from the lawsuit:
Infosys management routinely disparaged Americans, including Mrs. Awasthi, as not having "family values," and stated that layoffs in America are good because the jobs will be outsourced.
Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi for celebrating the American holiday of Thanksgiving, telling her that she should not celebrate Thanksgiving because she is Indian, and that therefore she must work on Thanksgiving Day.
Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi’s children for celebrating Thanksgiving, and called them "ABCD" short for "American-Born Confused Desi," and "IBCD" short for "Indian-Born Confused Desi," insulting terms used to criticize people of Indian ancestry who are Americanized.
Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi for celebrating Christmas, saying that "we" do not celebrate Christmas, and that she should not celebrate Christmas. Infosys management repeatedly discussed the quality of Mrs. Awasthi's work by explicitly commenting on their expectations for “a woman your age."
A spokesman for Infosys, Patrick McLaughlin, did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the lawsuit.

24 comments:

Shriniwas K said...

Most Indian Tech firms are involved in huge fraud with US labor laws. Whenever Consultants are on bench, they get minimum prescribed H1B pay so that their Status is maintained - but they have pay this back to the company in cash. Which means they are actually cheating the US Visa program.
Even BusinessWeek ran a cover story. There is large scale fraud in hiring contractors where nepotism and regionalism rule. All Indian firms are involved.

Moreover (I feel ashamed of being Indian many times for this) Indians especially Indian men are highly racist. They treat women like objects. They have no regard of the sacrifice of American soldiers and have no regard for American ethics, but want to pull out profit from America. They are extremely stingy and exploit employees and lie about employees qualifications to get projects. USCIS knows this but the tech industry lobby which is infested with Indian American Green card holders who are even more greedy than the Indian tech cos, push USCIS not to be strict on them, as the demand for tech workers is kept high by false estimation of tech projects.

Infy will settle lawsuit by huge payout, but this may lead to string of lawsuits hurting even genuine non cheating Indians and spoiling Indians reputation.

shailesh said...

Well on topic of Indian behavior there are contradictions galore.

IMO most disgusting things take place when Indian working in foreign country comes to India for bride shopping.

The IT education has bought technical skills to large number of Indias, where we lack is in our morals which were bent to favor greed. India has great culture, but worst moral values.

Anonymous said...

I think all companies have an cultural orientation program designed to specifically address these kind of issues. Looks like those programs are not working...

Things like ABCD etc..are something which one sees commonly and is nothing to fluster people. Also being denied thanksgiving is something amazing..because almost all Indian IT companies do close down for the long weekend. I did not find the story very credible and feel this is a case of extreme reaction..or exaggeration.

Anonymous said...

I find the global reaction to the announcement by UAE central bank astounding. Either they are all behaving like ostriches and are refusing to listen properly or they are deliberately trying to allay fears while they do a systematic climb down.

Specifically before defaulting, Dubai World and Sheikh Muktoom would have reached out to Abu Dhabi, UAE central bank and all possible sources before announcing the default...

The UAE central bank has said that it stands behind all "UAE banks" and not behind Dubai!! Abu Dhabi has also said it will help on a case to case basis!!

So how come the crisis is over?

Shriniwas K said...

@Anon1 - I know many consultants who work on Saturday before long weekend to make up for the 8 hours lost on holiday. Many companies force them to so that the billing for month which is hourly is uniform.

@Anon2 - This comment should have been on prev post. The sad part about Dubai is that mostly Indians work there, and this default will pinch their remittances, which mostly pay the home loans they took via Indian banks. I wonder how Indian housing finance institutions will deal with those...

Anonymous said...

Dubai official: Dubai World's debt its own

Dubai finance official says Dubai World not guaranteed by emirate ; creditors also at fault

By Barbara Surk, Associated Press Writer
On 8:13 am EST, Monday November 30, 2009

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A top Dubai finance official says heavily indebted Dubai World is not guaranteed by the emirate's government.

Abdulrahman al-Saleh, director general of Dubai's Finance Department, says lenders to the conglomerate bear some responsibility for the current crisis. He says they lent money based on the viability of the firm's projects, not because of government guarantees.

Al-Saleh said while Dubai owns Dubai World, it has been known since the conglomerate was established that it was independent and that it "is not guaranteed by the government."

Anonymous said...

Crack down on mortgage companies - Prime mortgage Crisis

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will crack down on mortgage companies that are failing to do enough to help borrowers at risk of foreclosure, as part of a broad effort to boost participation in its mortgage assistance program.

The program has come under heavy criticism for failing to do enough to attack a tidal wave of foreclosures. Analysts say the foreclosure crisis is likely to persist well into next year as rising unemployment pushes more people out of their homes.

About 14 percent of homeowners with mortgages were either behind on payments or in foreclosure at the end of September, a record level for the ninth straight quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, a committee that monitors spending under Treasury's bailout program, concluded last month that foreclosures are now threatening families who took out conventional, fixed-rate mortgages and put down payments of 10 to 20 percent on homes that would have been within their means in a normal market.

Anonymous said...

Dubai debacle: Indian HNIs face margin pressure
1 Dec 2009, 0022 hrs IST, Shailesh Menon, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: The leveraged asset purchases of Dubai-based wealthy non-resident Indians in the past few years may begin to haunt them, as the collapse
Dubai
Who is who in Dubai corporate map | Burj Dubai: The tallest tower | Dubai's metro
| Dubai's mega projects
of real estate prices in the emirate prompts calls for additional funds as margins which may force them to sell some Indian assets, experts say.

“Indian HNIs (high net worth individuals) made good use of easy credit lines in the past two years,” says Dubai-based JRG International Brokerage CEO PK Sajitkumar. “They even made investments using leveraged money, investing into India-focussed funds, buying freehold property and buying into Indian shares through participatory notes,” he said. “The situation is now so bad that many of these people will have to sell their leveraged assets, may be at a loss, to meet margin calls or retire debt.”

Slide of real estate and other asset prices in the Middle East has begun to accelerate after Dubai World, the government-backed conglomerate, last week sought moratorium on debts of about $59 billion. This has led to lenders seeking additional collateral for assets funded so far. Those unable to deposit more funds with the banks may be forced to sell assets, including Indian stocks, or even think of selling Indian real estate.

The fall in Dubai property prices has gained momentum over the past two weeks with rates going back to pre-2006 rates.

According to Saud Masud, a real estate analyst with UBS Dubai, the city-state’s property market could fall by up to 30%, from current levels — it’s already down 50% from the past year’s levels — and may take more than a decade to recover.

HNIs may sell assets

“HNIs who bought into Gulf real estate in the one year since May 2007 are in trouble,” says Krishnan Ramachandran, CEO of Dubai-based Barjeel Geojit Securities. “They will have to clear their debts by selling off a sizeable portion of their investment portfolio.”

Dubai-based money managers say banks in the emirate loaned such clients 8-10 times their capital while buying freehold property in 2007 and 2008 when the real estate was booming with the desert being sold as the next big international financial centre behind New York and London. For investing into India-focussed funds — funds that invest into Indian assets such as real estate, equities or debt — wealthy investors were given loans 3-5 times their capital, according to them.

Mauritius and British Virgin Island-registered asset management companies have launched more than 500 India-focussed funds since 2007, global money managers say. Leveraged investments account for over 60% of the total asset under management of all such funds, they say.

Those wealthy individuals who have exposure to Indian equities through participatory notes issued by banks such as Citigroup, Barclays and UBS may be forced to exit their positions to make good the losses incurred in Dubai. These investors will not be able to liquidate all their Indian debt portfolio as rules stipulate such assets are held at least for a year to 3 years.

“Leveraged investors may now have to sell risky/high-return assets to cover their losses in Dubai. Such selling could impact Indian markets as well,” said Saurabh Mukherjea, head of Indian equities at Noble Group.

Anonymous said...

Real Esate ne Bhai Lakhin ko Dubaya hai hamesha.

BB - Kahan hai bahar nikal. Or have u flown to Dubai to give release to your sheikhs / dons who are in tension.

Well the news is that one Indian celebrity has been badly screwed in Dubai Crisis and his risk is to the tune of 500 Crores!!

Haram ka paisa haram maut jaata hai.

Anonymous said...

Well this sounds sometihng like from the past.I worked for Infosys some 5 years back in US and I had a manager who is from IIM but who wouldnt fit any definition of a manager.An utterly lazy and dissilusioned guy who was always pissed off at other managers who cut above him without an MBA.This guy had issues with most subordinates and had at several occasions raised his hand as if to hit subordinates.This might be a one off case but this guy is now a engagement manager.

There is some truth in things about Phaneesh murthy and the manager like above since Infosys is not serious about having a fair workplace.Infosys is now rotten with politics, no wonder there is a Nandan Nilekani and Pai faction at the top !!

Another instance that I can support this ladys accusation :
Infosys cheats their employees with overtime or pager pay.I was one who had 2000 odd dollars to be paid to me for pager and overtime support work but they kept prologing the payment (the said manager above) and finally they said we cant pay !!
But they go ahead and bill the customer at a higher rate for overtime.

Another bad practice that infosys and most other companies do is this - For short term travle they bill the customer for the Business class ticket but make the employee take the economy class and pocket the difference.One could say its ok, but then is it fair then to penalize employees who come up with fake bills !! How different are the two ?
Especially for a company that mouths all the time how Value oriented their company is.
Infosys needs a lot of clean up .

Anonymous said...

I hope Infy's customer also be made part of this legal case by Dept of Labour.

This should send out an strong message to the so called American Companies and the stupid desi managers of such client companies to review their policies.

I have seen so many desi managers at American companies who think the only way to go up the ladder is by dumping work indiscriminately on desi vendors and cutting budgets and hence making vendors work round the clock in the name of productivity.

Ssadly, Infy and its ilk readily agree without an wimper.

dadesi said...

This blog may well be re-named as Infosys bashing blog.

Is it sour grapes that is making the author bash Infy at every opportunity.

Were u working for them in early 90's only to leave them come to US and remain an individual contributor / coder for life while your friends who stayed back at Infy are now GM's / AVP's etc...

Shriniwas K said...

@dadesi,

I would trade a coders life in USA anytime for VPs job in India. There is way too much backstabbing and nepotism in Indian companies. Those who dont do it, are forced to do it eventually.

Also I am not talking sour grapes. Business ethics are important and Infy and friends break them everytime. I dont say this as an employee. I know the NRN family personally as Mrs Murthy is my aunt.

Hemant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cool Head said...

Infy may just may be another Satyam that has not yet been discovered to be so.
Somebody here asked whether this is an Infy bashing blog. Certainly not, but the rise of companies like Infy and their employees are direct fuelers of the housing bubble in India. So it is not that there is no connection between the two. Most messageboards in these companies were filled with property buying/renting/flipping.

Vik said...

I have to admit that I am a disgruntled ex-Infoscion (whoever came up with that word) but I worked for them for just over 2 weeks, and this was in the early 90's. For many Infosys was a dream job, for me I thought working on mainframes was a dead-end career. No one could predict then what Infosys could be in 2009 so the best bet for me was to do what I thought was best for me.
Infosys has contributed a lot to the growth of IT in India, however that doesn't mean they are immune to the human fallcies of nepotism, sexism, regionalism and greed. the ideals which Murthy epouses can only take a company so long. Dhitrastra even as king couldn't control Duryodhana.
As for myself I have not one iota of regret having quit it. I would rather work as an engineer then silently suffocate there.

Anonymous said...

I like this blog but I find the comments that segue to the actual news item to be gratuitous. As far as I can tell, it is *alleged* that Infy is being culturally insensitive. It has not been proven in a court of law. Infy should be considered to be innocent until proven otherwise.

Desi Guy said...

I believe there is an issue with overtime.

Many Indian companies in USA dont pay overtime and many Indian people work many hours from their homes, late nights and on holidays.

The companies do charge clients on the basis of the time sheets and will get compensated on extra hours from the clients. But the employees may have a different set of rules of compensation on extra hours.. I think there is a genuine issue for grievances here.

Ridiculing an employes for being an ABCD or IBCD is possible - but is considered as a very rude behavior by most of Indians. I believe this employee is looking for reasons for building up a case for discrimination and use this law suit as a tool to get even and get a fat out of court settlement.

Every one of us here can think of a few bosses who made our lives hell - in India or USA or any where.

But many of us can also tell about a few bad employees who created issues for us and for themselves big time..

So I would not bash up a company of "Indians" or Indian employees solely on a complaint by a disgruntled employee.

It is a little more complicated than a one sided judgment.

Anonymous said...

She is a gold digging whore...fuck her..

Anonymous said...

As a current Infoscion female employee in the US (and a Westerner by birth), I can back up what she says. I've had holidays denied with no compensation (days off or pay), had directives given to men entirely ignored, etc.

Infosys does not abide by the HR policies of the countries that they are working in. That is going to bite them big time. It may be okay in India, but it isn't in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Infosys or for that matter many outsourcing companies based out of India, blatantly abuse overtime laws and ethics. It's a cyclic dependency of greed and harrasment. An employee wants to stay 'onsite'. In return, he or she is willing to work extra hours in the night and weekends without pay. Soon, it becomes the norm. Managers expect everyone to work over time just because others are willing to do it. If any one questions - they have attitude problems, not a team player or just a trouble maker. Meantime, American customers turn a blind eye, no wonder, as they get more bang for the buck. I think it is part of the Indian culture. You can take the man out of the country but not the country out of the man..hopefully as time progresses and people grow to the next level in the socio economic front, things will change for better.

Anonymous said...

All of indian companies are bringing people on L visas and are placed as consultants. These consultants do not have any specialized skills they just managed to convince the consulate officer. Indian companies are hesitant to hire local people and seek to employ only people of Indian origin so that they can pay less. The people working on L visa are on perdiem of about $100/day in some of these companies and their are billing about $75- $80 per hour.

Anonymous said...

thats the problem with Infosys... Infosys HR sucks.. being a Infoscian, I even know many issue which I raised in Infosys HR (believe me ...even to Nandita gurjar's level) but nobody cares in Infosys HR...untill employee files a lawsuit..
multiple incidences are there when Infosys manager deny to pay overtime or force employee to not to fill their internal overtime system (called OTPS and iTime) to their CA based employees (I have valid proof for this). when raised this issue in Infosys HR, they even dont bother ... what next to say other then filing a lawsuit... one more lawuit to come soon...

rajni sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.