Monday, 01 May 2017 11:16

IT workers to sue after being replaced by H-1B holders


IT workers at the state-supported University of California are set to file a case this week against their being replaced by workers from the Indian outsourcing company HCL.

The case will allege that the workers were discriminated against because of their age and national origin and will be filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

While it is common for IT workers in commercial companies to be replaced by their equivalents from outsourcing companies, it is unusual for it to happen at a public, state-supported institution.

A report in Computerworld said about 50 full-time jobs university workers had lost their jobs in February and another 30 contractors had also been asked to go.

The workers' legal representative, Randall Strauss, of Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, was quoted as saying: "To take a workforce that is overwhelmingly over the age of 40 and replace them with folks who are mainly in their 20s — early 20s, in fact — we think is age discrimination."

Last month, the US Department of Justice warned employers who were seeking H-1B visas not to discriminate against American workers.

Acting Assistant Attorney-General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division said: "The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against US workers.

"US workers should not be placed in a disfavoured status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

IT workers at Disney have made similar allegations against their employer and are pursuing a case which was filed in federal court in Orlando, Florida, in December. About 250 workers were replaced by workers from offshore outsourcing firms.

The University of California was caught on the wrong foot last week when a state auditor's report found that it had not reported US$175 million in its budget. It had argued that replacing the IT workers would save it US$50 million.

The focus on H-1B visas has grown after the election of President Donald Trump who won on a campaign of putting Americans first. Applications for this class of visas for the current fiscal year have fallen for the first time in four years.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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