Dynamite – Gonsalves Case Against Infosys

Frank Gonsalves’ lawyers are mad at Infosys.

So hopping mad that they’ve recently written to the judge requesting an immediate status conference in Gonsalves’ lawsuit against Infosys.

Frank Gonsalves – Bigger Threat for Infosys

While much attention has been focused on Infosys’ alleged violation of U.S. Visa rules, the bigger threat for the Indian software giant could come from former employee Frank Gonsalves’ suit charging it with age discrimination among other things.

Visa violations for which Infosys has been in the news lately (including a second story in the New York Times) is garden variety fraud and even if Infosys is proven guilty of playing fast and loose with U.S. immigration laws it’ll only get a slap on the wrist.

But if Infosys is found guilty of age-discrimination in demoting and firing Frank Gonsalves, it could open the floodgates for other terminated employees to go after the company.

Discrimination on the basis of age is illegal in the U.S. and corporations can pay a heavy price if found guilty of the practice.

One of India’s largest software services providers to American corporations, Infosys has several thousand employees working in the U.S.

Gonsalves’s claims against Infosys include:

(1) discrimination on the basis of age
(2) discrimination on the basis of religion
(3) retaliation
(4) failure to prevent discrimination
(5) wrongful termination in violation of public policy
(6) breach of contract
(7) retaliation in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Delay, Delay, Delay

Based upon our reading of the legal documents in the Frank Gonsalves vs Infosys case, it appears to us that Infosys is worried stiff and deploying a well-known legal strategy to thwart the suit – delay, delay, delay in hopes that the defendant will run out of patience or resources and go away.

A recent letter from Gonsalves lawyer dt April 13, 2012 reflects the plaintiff’s frustration over Infosys’ refusal to produce the agreed upon documents:

Defendant Infosys has not produced a single document identified through the agreed electronic search terms. None….Infosys is purposefully delaying the process to the prejudice of plaintiff.

Gonsalves attorneys have requested the court for an immediate status conference to discuss Infosys’ alleged non-compliance.

Infosys’ co-founder N.R.Narayana Murthy’s deposition in the case is scheduled for May 11, 2012.

Gonsalves vs Infosys – Case History

Gonsalves filed his suit against Infosys in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in September 2009.

Before his demotion, Gonsalves was Unit Head in charge of the International Business Unit Automotive and Aerospace with 1,000 employees reporting to him. Following the demotion, he had less than 20 employees reporting to him, Gonsalves alleged in the complaint.

Infosys has denied demoting Gonsalves.

Gonsalves, who worked at Infosys for six years, from 2002 to 2008, alleges in the complaint that despite receiving high performance ratings in management reviews he was demoted after turning 50 and ultimately fired.

Grave Charges

In his suit, Gonsalves alleges:

Aware that India does not have laws prohibiting age discrimination, Infosys and its individual directors, have explicitly adopted policies and a corporate culture which prefer younger workers over older workers and otherwise discriminates on the basis of age in employment. Infosys has between 10,000 and 20,000 employees who work in the United States and are affected by these policies.

For example, Infosys illegally considers age in hiring, promotion, demotion and termination decisions. Infosys Board members openly express a preference for younger managers and younger executives to lead its business units. Infosys “reserves” senior management positions and positions on its management advisory boards for employees under the age of 30; those positions are not available to Mr. Gonsalves or other substantially older employees. Infosys publicly articulates that “[y]outh and empowerment are the keys to scalability and longevity” and that it is important to “give an opportunity to the young leaders to run small business units.” Infosys has a practice and policy of “building, grooming and empowering” a “new generation of leaders,” and favoring younger employees and managers over older ones.

In India, Infosys has been celebrated as a paragon of virtue and hailed as a role model of an ethical corporation although the company has engaged in questionable behavior in the past (look at the documents of Infosys original Indian IPO describing the intended use of the IPO proceeds and examine how the proceeds were actually used later).

Ultimately, we expect that to avoid the messy publicity and the uncertainty of litigation Infosys may well elect to settle the case with Frank Gonsalves keeping the terms confidential.

Related Legal Documents:
April 13, 2012 Letter Requesting Immediate Status Conference
Frank Gonsalves vs Infosys Amended Complaint

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