Infosys Ltd., an IT staffing firm hired by Harley-Davidson Inc. to outsource its internal IT functions, is denying claims after being sued for discrimination in a class action lawsuit over its practices in staffing the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer’s project.
Kelly Parker, a former contract worker, and Brenda Koehler, of Milwaukee, allege in the lawsuit that the outsourcing firm discriminated against American workers a year ago by replacing them with workers from South Asia. Infosys, which is based in India, has disputed the claims saying that the company faced a talent shortage in the U.S.
The case was filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Wisconsin in August 2013.
“Selection was based on skills and experience of the individuals. We reject any accusation that Infosys discriminates against applicants or employees based on their nationality or race,” according to a statement by Tara Kozak-Lindsay, a spokeswoman for Infosys. “When we use H-1B visas to bring people with specific skills for short term engagements to work on projects for our clients, their salaries meet or exceed US Department of Labor mandated minimum levels for respective job categories. In addition, we recruit US residents to support our growing business. Today we have over 440 active openings across 20 states in the US for local hires.”
At the time, Infosys had 17 locations and the center was expected to train 125 people, but Harley laid off 125 of its employees and of those, 83 were expected to have “preferential consideration” for Infosys jobs.
Infosys did not identify how many workers were hired onto the project, but Harley confirmed that some were hired.
“We told them that they had to create a data center in Milwaukee, which it did,” said Maripat Blankenheim, Harley’s director of external communications. “It had to look at the existing employees, but they were not required to take them. A lot of our employees got jobs here. It’s not that we wanted to shed those employees; we actually hired some back in newly created positions. So it was a net gain of Harley-Davidson employees to manage the work.”
But the federal lawsuit alleges that at least one of the Harley contract workers was discriminated against.
According to federal court documents, Parker worked for another third-party contractor, Enterforce Inc., that Harley had used to provide global information services to its internal customers before it hired Infosys Ltd.
Parker, who performed contract work at Harley’s Tomahawk location from February 2012 through May 2013, interviewed with Infosys for the position she was already performing twice, but it never hired her, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges that Parker trained a man who was an Indian national who then took over her duties, and in August 2013 Parker was fired by Infosys because her desk area wasn’t tidy and she was late to work one day.
In November 2013, Infosys paid $35 million to settle claims made in another federal suit that it fraudulently used methods to get “cheap visitor visas for its personnel,” according to a story by CNBC. That case stemmed from the actions of former Infosys employee-turned whistleblower that helped lead to a backlash against the use of H-1B and other visa programs.
Infosys denied guilt in the case, but it paid the largest amount for an immigration case.