Indirect discrimination claim against TCS to progress after hearing

Judge at employment tribunal against Tata Consultancy Services’ employment practice gives go-ahead for indirect discrimination claim

A judge at an employment tribunal in London, where a UK man claimed that Tata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) employment practice discriminated against him when he applied for a job, has ruled that an indirect discrimination claim could progress.

At the preliminary hearing in a central London employment court, TCS applied to strike out claims, made by Prashant Sengar, of direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Employment judge SJ Auerbach did not permit the claimant to proceed with his direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation claims. These claims were not permitted because it was judged they would have little prospect of success. The claimant can apply to re-instate the claims.

But the indirect discrimination claim, which alleges that TCS has a policy of recruiting lower-cost staff from India, was permitted to progress. 

The case could raise new questions over multinational companies bringing staff to the UK from overseas via the intra-company transfers (ICT) scheme, which permits multinational companies to bring staff to UK operations. The system was introduced so large multinationals could bring senior overseas staff to the UK if they had UK operations. 

IT suppliers, including India-based companies, have been accused of abusing the ICT route simply to cut costs. But certain rules exist, such as the level of pay the employee receives and permitting the employer to bring staff from offshore only if the post cannot be filled by a UK citizen.

The case began after Sengar, originally from Mumbai, alleged that he was not given the job he applied for because he is a British citizen and would therefore cost more to hire. TCS denies these claims.

A court case in 2014 heard that Sengar had a copy of an employee database for TCS, which he claimed proved TCS broke immigration rules. TCS denied this and claimed Sengar tried to blackmail the company with the database, which was leaked by a TCS employee. Sengar was forced to return the database.

The case continues.

According to freedom of information requests from website BackTheMac, which campaigns against abuse of the ICT rules, there are 35,565 ICT employees in the UK from India – out of a total of about 60,000. 

IT workers account for a large proportion of the ICT numbers. In December 2013, for example, at the top of the profession alone there were over 12,000 IT software professionals, nearly 6,000 programmers and software development professionals and just under 5,000 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers.

In 2013, Infosys paid $35m to settle a visa dispute with US authorities.

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