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Court case offers a peek at how H-1B-fueled discrimination works

Patrick Thibodeau | July 11, 2014
Outsourcing firm Infosys is being sued by for 4 IT pros who allege it discriminates against U.S.workers.

Infosys does not voluntarily disclose its diversity data for its U.S. workforce.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were able to this get federal demographic data. Infosys was required to report the demographic make-up of any location at which it employs at least 50 people, according to the lawsuit. In 2012, there were 59 such Infosys sites across the U.S. that met that threshold. The lawsuit said that for more one third of the sites — 21 — Infosys reported that 100% of the employees are Asian. For 53 of the 59 sites, at least 94.5% of the employees were Asian. The lowest percentage of Asian employees at any site was 73.8%.

Infosys is among the top three users of the H-1B visa, and H-1B workers are predominately from India. Approximately 58% of all the H-1B petitions approved in 2011 were from workers born in India; in 2012, that figure was 64%, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) data.

Offshore firms mostly hire H-1B workers from India, according to data obtained by Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. His data shows that 97% of the H-1B visa workers hired by Infosys were from India. Other large offshore firms had similarly high percentages.

While age discrimination is not part of this lawsuit, the USCIS data helps to illustrate why critics believe H-1B workers are used to replace older workers. Of all the H-1B petitions approved in 2012, 72% were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34; in 2011, that figure was even higher, 74%.

There is no available government data on the sex of H-1B workers, but the IEEE-USA estimates that at least 80% of H-1B workers are males.

It is a fair question to ask, as the lawsuit contends, why Infosys only had three American workers working on the District of Columbia's healthcare exchange. The Washington D.C. area does not lack people with tech skills. Of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., Washington has the most people with advanced degrees, (22.9%) and bachelor degrees (48%).

The District's government has made hiring locally a priority. Several District officials were contacted for comment about whether the apparent use of a large number of foreign workers on a government contract is in line with hiring goals, but none responded.

 

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