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US IT Worker Files Hiring Lawsuit Against Infosys, Class Action Proposed 684

itwbennett writes "Brenda Koehler is a VMware-certified professional network engineer with a master's degree in information systems and 17 years of experience. You might think that would qualify her for a lead VMware/Windows administrator, but Indian outsourcing firm Infosys apparently didn't. And Koehler has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that Infosys ignored her qualifications and eventually hired a Bangladeshi worker to staff a position she was qualified for. Koehler and her lawyers are asking the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to allow a class-action lawsuit against Infosys, with 'thousands' of potential plaintiffs in the case, according to the lawsuit, filed Thursday."
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US IT Worker Files Hiring Lawsuit Against Infosys, Class Action Proposed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:24PM (#44482133)

    All to common of a problem. H1 Visa applicants are way cheeper than Americans. I was replaced a few years ago because they "could not find anyone in america that could do my job". No one asked if I would like to apply.

  • by linuxguy ( 98493 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:25PM (#44482139) Homepage

    "Master's degree in information systems and 17 years of experience" does not tell us that she was more qualified than the Bangladeshi hired. I have interviewed too many people who look good on paper only.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:35PM (#44482227)
      There is lots of discrimination in hiring. Much of it has been studied and documented. Other parts haven't gotten as much attention. She never claimed she was "more" qualified, just that when the position was available, she wasn't hired, and when the position was filled, it was filled with someone who can't take the role unless "no other qualified candidate could be found". Which implicitly states she wasn't qualified, and bears no comparison between her and the person hired. He couldn't be considered unless she was already rejected as "unqualified". Not "qualified, but undesirable".

      The rules for H1-B are well defined. Based on a glance, the facts seem to be on her side.
      • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:33PM (#44482605)

        I once had a business owner tell me he wouldn't hire a man with long hair. I said "that's illegal!" he replied "So?" Being young and naive I called a lawyer... who laughed at me and told me I needed a better reason to be a minority, judges don't like long hairs either.

        • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:55PM (#44482729) Journal

          There is nothing illegal about not hiring someone with long hair.

          Many on this site feel entitled not to be filtered out but that is a fact of life. Hiring is highly risky.

          What is illegal is not hiring someone based on sex, gender, religion, disability, race, being gay (1/3 of the states have this), or any other reason based on a civil rights violation. Dressing and looking unprofessional does not go under any of these critera.

          Being a woman or American is not why she was not hired. From the looks of it she is over qualified and therefore expensive and would be a risk of her leaving if they made her an offer but I could be mistaken. Impossible to prove and sorry folks but being expensive is not protected and a valid reason to filter someone.

          • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 ) <> on Monday August 05, 2013 @10:17PM (#44482831)

            If she was "overqualified" then there's even more reason why the H1B shouldn't have gotten the job. In this case, it is illegal to "filter" her.

            The law is quite clear - you can't bring someone in on an H1B unless an already work legal qualified candidate cannot be found. If she's overqualified, she's still qualified. Expensive or not, it would be illegal to hire an H1B over her.

    • by thaylin ( 555395 )
      She does not have to be more qualified than the Bangladeshi, just qualified for the position. It is a requirement for H1-B that there cannot be an American qualified for the position in order to give that visa.
    • I have also worked with a number of Indians who were educated in India and are NOT ready for work here.

      BUT, I think that she is arguing that she was good enough and the job should not have been outsourced.
    • She doesn't have to be more qualified. She just has to be qualified.

      The H1B law requires going to H1Bs only if no qualified US workers can be found.

    • by The Cat ( 19816 ) * on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:57PM (#44482735)

      I love me a fucking world where a Master's Degree and 17 years experience only gets you a rude gesture from the hiring manager.

      May this job market drown in it's own shit.

      • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @01:24AM (#44483565) Journal

        I love me a fucking world where a Master's Degree and 17 years experience only gets you a rude gesture from the hiring manager.

        Sorry, but I've worked with Junior Admins who had masters degrees, and several years (not quite 17) of experience, and I was underwhelmed by their abilities.

        A MS doesn't prove anything about your abilities. Several years of experience is more poignant, but a largely incompetent person looking for a low enough salary, and particularly filling junior-level roles, can stay employed for a long time. But that doesn't mean they are qualified for the Senior level positions.

        I don't believe there's any point in criticizing what little we know of her CV here, but I also don't believe we should act like moron recruiters and say "keyword + X years == AWESOME!"

  • This is trouble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zoffdino ( 848658 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:37PM (#44482239)
    While most will criticize her ego, I see the lawsuit has some merits from an immigration/hiring practice angle. The biggest source of H1-B visas are from outsourcing companies like InfoSys, who hires almost exclusively from India. She is alleging that they passed over the qualified American applicants (which she may be one), to claim that no one can fill the opening and get an H1-B instead. This also inadvertently causes a racial bias, which favors South Asians over any other ethnic groups. She may have an inflated sense of self-worth, but the lawsuit is noteworthy as it's (the first time???) I've heard an American worker stands against tech companies in their hiring practices. The are hardly attracting the best minds to the US. They are only getting them cheap. And it must be stopped.
    • Re:This is trouble (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:05PM (#44482433)

      One important note about the H1B program that rarely gets any press is that while there is a legal requirement to hire qualified citizens before considering an H1B holder, there is zero money allocated to enforce that requirement.

      It only gets enforced in cases like this where someone who was blatantly passed over in favor of an H1B holder who pushes on their own to see it enforced. To the best of my incomplete knowledge there has been a total of 1 enforcement actions by the DoJ regarding this sort of rule breaking during the entire ~2 decades of H1B visas.

    • While most will criticize her ego

      We will?

      What was that, some sort of subtle attempt at a strawman?

    • Re:This is trouble (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:40PM (#44482635)

      Even for those of us who support expanding legal immigration, they are pretty terrible poster children. Infosys and the like give H1-Bs a bad name which then drags the legitimacy of the whole system down with them. More respectable tech companies like Google and Microsoft do have sporadic abuses, but for the most part they use the system much more like how it was intended to be used. It would be nice to find a way to tailor the system more towards them, cut the Infosyses out of the game, and then expand a cleaned up H1-B system.

      One approach could just be to put an absolute salary floor on H1-B positions. If you're willing to offer someone $120k, I have a lot more confidence that this is actually a job in demand that fills a critical gap in the U.S. economy, versus if you aren't willing to pay more than $60k for this supposedly impossible-to-fill position.

      • Re:This is trouble (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:55PM (#44482731)
        Personally I think any position that is to be sent to a H1B must be posted on a site like USA jobs, then after a certain period of time if no candidate shows up than they can send it over for the visa. All the resumes on the site should be searchable (redacted of identifying data) to ensure they are not cheating. This paid for byt he company wanting to get the visa.
  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:39PM (#44482257)

    This is a slow train that's been coming for a long time. Richly deserved, by any measure. the US is not India, and isn't going to allow for flagrant, over the top wholesale discrimination. We've already been there, done that, and we're not going back.

    Infosys is fucked.


    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )

      This is a slow train that's been coming for a long time. Richly deserved, by any measure. the US is not India, and isn't going to allow for flagrant, over the top wholesale discrimination. We've already been there, done that, and we're not going back.

      Infosys is fucked.


      I'm sure they have enough US based, high-priced legal talent to drag this out indefinitely.

  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:43PM (#44482285) Homepage Journal

    I've contracted in the US a few times. I worked closely with the consulting companies I dealt with.

    And when it came time to search for more work, they let me in on some of the keywords to watch out for when perusing ads. Those keywords mean they're postings to meet the legal obligation of advertising for a position before bringing someone in on a work visa.

    There is no point applying for those jobs -- 99% of the time they already have an overseas candidate in mind and they're just filling in the blanks for the paperwork by posting the ad.

    And that was way back in the late 1980's. From what I can see of the situation, it has not changed. Most ads placed in newspapers and online nowadays seem to be to meet the paperwork requirements for bringing in cheap overseas labour.

    By the way, I was quite qualified for many of those jobs, and applied anyhow. I had a few interviews, but despite years as an Oracle performance tuner and DBA, it seemed that the cheap Indian offshore workers always got the jobs. Same old, same old.

    The US doesn't need H1-B programmers at this point in time -- there are too many unemployed people out there. It's all a scam to save money.

    • Re:It's about time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @08:55PM (#44482397) Homepage

      It's all a scam to save money.

      Sort of. Hiring H1-B applicants is a pretty expensive process and definitely a pain in the butt. Granted, the workers don't get to see as much of the cost of hiring them, but there are a lot more middlemen involved who each take their cut.

      What's really going on is replacing "free labor" citizens with what amount to indentured workers who basically can't quit. It means that when you decide "The entire tech department will now work 85 hours a week", you don't have the exodus of employees that you will get from citizen workers who (rightfully IMHO) won't stand for that sort of thing.

      It's not just about money, it's also about control and convenience for management.

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        That's why I'd rather move to a system more like the Canadian "points" system, that just outright offers residency to highly skilled immigrants. If someone fills a critical gap in the U.S. economy, fine, let them immigrate, give them a green card, and let them play the regular employment market like anyone else.

      • Infosys gets a bit of a break here, since they can hire H1-B worker for themselves, then farm out that worker to other companies. It's a bit expensive but once they've got that worker they can keep that worker for awhile even though that actual work is for a sequence of third parties. If the worker complains about the low pay, then they're back on the plane to an even lower paying job.

    • Those keywords mean they're postings to meet the legal obligation of advertising for a position before bringing someone in on a work visa.

      Sometimes, they don't even post the jobs at all. [] Keeps those pesky citizens from applying and creating more makework.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      And this is exactly why a lawsuit ... or better yet, criminal charges (so it means time in prison when convicted) needs to be brought to court, to clear this up.

      That said, I'm in favor of letting provably qualified workers come to this country under certain conditions. Number 1 is they are free to move on to a new employer at any time, which they might want to do for better pay and/or better conditions. And number 2 is that they state an intent to seek American citizenship, and move through the steps to g

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:13PM (#44482487)

    I get about 3-6 emails a week from H1B shops offering me jobs in cities I do not live in. I've also expressed no interest in moving to those cities.

    Really obvious "We couldn't find a US worker!!" scam.

  • Employement scam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:14PM (#44482495)

    I hope that the company gets nailed to the wall. I've been in a similar situation for the past four years. I hold multiple certifications including Oracle DBA, but prospective employers don't care about experience, skills or anything except how little they can pay. I've applied for jobs and been passed over for a less experienced H1B worker or some inexperienced trade school kid with an academic visa who doesn't want to go back home and is scrambling to get a green card. We need a law that says "Hire Americans first" with some stiff penalties. Or how about letting companies have as many H1B visas as they want with a yearly fee of $250,000 per H1B visa? And have a clause that overseas outsourcing firms have to pay a similar "labor import duty" per contract worker or employee that is doing work for US companies and the onshore company that has contracted the outsourcing firm has to pay a similar "outsourcing license fee".

    Of course when we have Chinese companies doing work on military computer systems for the Pentagon and working on weapons systems as engineers and software developers it's kind of obvious that our leaders have their heads located where the sun never shines, it's nice and warm and the spine assumes a near circular shape. I'd bet that much of the development of the monitoring systems that are watching phone calls, comments on sites, blogs and emails went to Chinese, Pakistani or Indian workers under lucrative outsourcing contracts.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      We need a law that says "Hire Americans first" with some stiff penalties

      We already have that law -- the H1B outsourcing process requires that "no qualified candidate is available locally". Their paperwork makes that claim somewhere, I am sure.

      The stiff penalty part is missing. Apparently there is no funding for enforcing that particular part of the outsourcing mechanism.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:21PM (#44482551) Journal
    it must be KEPT FREE! So we can drive wages down to nothing so our owners can buy another yacht!

    Cuz yachts don't buy themselves...

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:41PM (#44482641)

    It's great to see this kind of thing. I hope she wins, honestly. She's got an uphill battle ahead of her.

    What a lot of people don't realize is that Wipro and Infosys buy influence in this country, that's how they've been able to game the system and get away with it for a long time?

    Ultimately we need to restructure the H1-B system so that it allows companies to get the talent they need without all the middle-man broker approach and doesn't exploit workers from abroad and keep wages down and unemployment high in this country. We don't need to hire Kindergarten teachers on H1-B visas. []
    Really? Fort Worth ISD? Come on you can't find a qualified US resident to teach?

    Also, the immigration reforms that seem largely stalled now have some things in it that are making H1-B mills a bit nervous, I say good!
    Even in their own country, Wipro, Infosys et al are viewed as "Selling Indians abroad." So it'll be great to see how this case evolves. []

    Take a look at the comments.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @09:50PM (#44482699) Journal
    The quality of Indians applying for H1B positions from India has changed a lot in the last decade. The opportunities have expanded a lot in India, they get very good salary and they hire cooks and maids for a pittance over there. So most top quality engineers do not want to leave India. Real high quality ones from IITs and Regional Engineering Colleges (whatever they are called now) etc go into management and if at all they come to USA, it is to Wharton, Kelloggs and such brandname MBA programs. Some high quality engineers come to USA to do Masters and they are usually good. Also a big factor is USA has lost its charm in the eyes of most young women in India. They are used to having maids and cooks. They go, "what? do the dishes, cook the dinner, wash the clothes, and gasp, clean the bathrooms? Are you crazy I am not coming there". So they high quality applicant stream has dwindled. I have not seen an IIT resume cross my desk in the last 10 years.

    On the other hand there are plenty of second, some third or even fourth grade engineers still enchanted by USA. They still apply and they are the ones most slashdotters disdainfully make fun of as poor quality desi programmers.

    I would not go back, no matter what pay they offer and how many cooks, drivers and maids I could afford over there. Once you get used to the clean water and clean air, and reliable electric grid, it is difficult to readjust. But next generation of me are not coming here. Sadly. It would benefit both USA and them. And those who are still willing to come damage USA and damage the reputation of all Indians, all for a fistful of dollars.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @10:41PM (#44482953)

    One thing I noted in working with Infosys is that they require your high school graduation date.

    Not evidence you graduated.

    Not the year you graduated from college.

    I'm sure they think they are being cute, but I hope that they get burned hard for it someday.

  • How dare she sue! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @11:19PM (#44483113) Journal

    But not to worry the conservative SCOTUS in conjuction with tort reform and a proper realignment of labor laws will soon put an end to that. We can't have individuals oppressing corporations because, after all, corporations are people. If workers want to be treated as people they shouldn't be workers. They should choose to be wealthy.

  • H1 ? Write to order (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @12:49AM (#44483451)

    You won't get that job. The H1 Employer will write the ad so that only his potential hire can pass it. I need a person who speaks creole and yiddish, with a degree in fine arts and electrical engineering. Must be able to program in Fortran and java, in cantonese.

    When the Employer goes back to INS to prove the job they wrote the definition for cannot be filled except by the H1, the circle is closed.

    Oh, and you OWN the'll never get that with a normal employee.

    Attorney who used to write those ads.....

  • by nomad63 ( 686331 ) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @03:48AM (#44484001)
    We all know, unless you have a secret recording from the interview, some stupid employer representative says things that is not so kosher, it is impossible to prove discrimination. But, does it really mean that her lawsuit is baseless ? We, including all the competent and mostly incompetent IT workers from India, know that, infosys, tata and wipro are only functional and operational in USA, because they know how to rig and play the system. And the corrupt US politicians who in the pockets of facebooks and micro$ofts are fanning the fire by providing higher number of H1B quotas.

    Do you know the latest game infosys a-holes play ? I have been a victim of this ploy. First off they use third party, pond-scum Indian operated recruiters to make their bids, so nothing sticks to them. I am not sure how this lady got into talks with these people at infosys, directly. But anyway, infosys runs the support shop for Cisco Systems and they were looking for a UNIX heavy guy with some TCP/IP networking knowledge and they found me through some site, where I posted my resume. FIrst off the bat, they low-balled the initial offer for working in San Jose. They offered me something like 10% less money than, what I was making at my last position in Southern Cali. which is another 20-some percent cheaper to live compared to the bay area. But, considering it is better than living on an unemployment check, I agreed to interview. After about 3 or 4 botched calls by them, I had the *pleasure* of talking to an infosys employee, calling me from India, for about 30 minutes, who did the *technical* interview to judge my UNIX expertise level with few easy questions, which, someone who installed linux and played with it for a couple of days can answer. Then I got a call back from the secondary, pond-scum agency, telling me that, I past my tech-screen with flying colors. No-shit-Sherlock... I have been a UNIX sysadmin for more than 20 years and he read a book about it ?? Anyway, they wanted to offer me the position but, the BIG BUT, infosys renegotiated the rate and they have to scale back the already low hourly rate by another 15%. At that point, I told the guy to go pound sand. And I am sure, for the money they were thinking about paying, they hired an indian UNIX sysadmin, who didn't mind sharing an apartment with 5 or more others like himself.

    Maybe, just maybe, we the American IT workers should play their game and force these three clown companies from india, by filing lawsuit after lawsuit, even if it is going to be rejected. The problem is, we do not have the deep pockets. Maybe organizations like groklaw and EFF should consider mounting such a campaign. Operating on the outskirts of the law, doesn't necessarily mean that, they have the right to rape the American IT sector.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!