Teased About Thanksgiving, Ex-Employee Says Bosses Are Turkeys

American citizen, originally from India, fights for right to celebrate traditional holiday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thanksgiving? Not here, Infosys bosses told one American employee.

    Who says you can't celebrate Thanksgiving?

    Promila Awasthi, a Silicon Valley computer consultant, says her bosses at Infosys did.

    Infosys the Anti-Celebratory

    [BAY] Infosys the Anti-Celebratory
    Global tech company Infosys is facing a lawsuit from an an employee who says her bosses wouldn't give her the time to celebrate Thanksgiving. (Published Friday, Dec 4, 2009)

    In a lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda County Superior Court, Awasthi, an India-born American citizen, says her bosses at Infosys's Fremont ,Calif. office mocked her for observing American holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and refused to pay her overtime according to California law.

    The lawsuit is potentially explosive for Infosys,  one of a host of India-based information-technology outsourcing firms which take over computing tasks from other companies.

    Infosys has been pushing to expand its presence in the United States, both to blunt the political backlash from moving jobs overseas and to gain a commercial advantage by hiring local sales and marketing executives better equipped to take business from the slick sales forces of HP and IBM.

    Contrast Infosys's global ambitions with the allegations in Awasthi's lawsuit. She hardly paints a culturally sensitive picture of her former company, where she worked from February to November 2008, at which point she claims "intolerable" working conditions forced her to quit. Here are highlights from the lawsuit:

    Infosys management routinely disparaged Americans, including Mrs. Awasthi, as not having "family values," and stated that layoffs in America are good because the jobs will be outsourced.

    Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi for celebrating the American holiday of Thanksgiving, telling her that she should not celebrate Thanksgiving because she is Indian, and that therefore she must work on Thanksgiving Day.

    Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi’s children for celebrating Thanksgiving, and called them "ABCD" short for "American-Born Confused Desi," and "IBCD" short for "Indian-Born Confused Desi," insulting terms used to criticize people of Indian ancestry who are Americanized.

    Infosys management ridiculed Mrs. Awasthi for celebrating Christmas, saying that "we" do not celebrate Christmas, and that she should not celebrate Christmas. Infosys management repeatedly discussed the quality of Mrs. Awasthi's work by explicitly commenting on their expectations for “a woman your age."

    A spokesman for Infosys, Patrick McLaughlin, did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the lawsuit.