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Case closed! US court buys TCS' version, refuses to reopen racial bias suit

An American court said it won't hold fresh trial in the case that the Indian IT major had won last November.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 10.12 PM IST|Original: Aug 27, 2019, 08.04 AM IST
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TCS had earlier tried to get the case dismissed, but a federal judge denied the request, leading to a court trial last year.
MUMBAI: A US district court has refused to hold a fresh trial in a case where it had cleared India’s largest IT outsourcer Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discrimination against local employees.

The court last week denied the motion by three former TCS workers, who had questioned the verdict of a California jury in November.

The jury had rejected claims that the Indian IT firm preferred to staff its US offices with Indians instead of Americans.

ET has reviewed the August 20 order of the Northern District of California district court.

In their motion, the plaintiffs said the jury returned the verdict “against the great weight of the evidence” and that “incorrect evidentiary rulings led to an unjust result.”

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The court in its order, however, stated that “even if it were an error to exclude plaintiffs’ hiring-related exhibits, the verdict was not likely affected by that exclusion”.

In relation to testimony submitted by Ashok Seetharaman, the then deputy head of HR at TCS, the court said, “even if it were an error to allow Mr Seetharaman’s testimony, the verdict was not likely affected thereby, because TCS presented other, similar evidence in support of the verdict…”

During the jury trial, Seetharaman had presented testimony as to why 845 employees became unallocated (or benched) to projects, based on reasons like customer escalation or performance issues and/ or violation of TCS policies.

The trial had brought into focus the work-visas granted to IT companies, which use them to bring overseas employees to the US.

The overuse of this practice to by some companies was criticised by US President Donald Trump earlier, and led to policies which have made it significantly harder for overseas workers to secure H-1B visas.

H-1B denial rates across the Indian IT industry, for companies like TCS, HCL and Wipro, have risen significantly. The number of H-1B petitions filed by the industry has also come down drastically, according to experts.

During the trial, TCS had presented proof that the non-south Asians in question were fired because they had refused to relocate or were challenging to work with, among other reasons. The company later said that decisions on hiring and retention of employees were made “irrespective of their background or national origin…”

TCS had earlier tried to get the case dismissed, but a federal judge denied the request, leading to a court trial last year.

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