back to article Four women seek release from forced arbitration to sue Infosys for widespread gender discrimination

Four female former employees of IT consultancy Infosys on Wednesday filed a claim with the US Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that they were subject to pervasive discrimination at the company. The women – Shannon Doyle, Carrie Subacs, Sylvie Thompson, and an anonymous plaintiff going as Jane Doe – have also …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Forced arbitration should be illegal

    Force arbitration is a direct violation of due process.

    1. Richocet

      Re: Forced arbitration should be illegal

      Undue process?

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Forced arbitration should be illegal

      It's the best justice money can buy

  2. First Light Silver badge

    Typical Indian male behavior

    I spend alot of the year in South India and I can attest to the fact that the Indian male ego is fragile beyond belief. It's Patriarchy on steroids. It does not surprise me that a guy would respond that way to a female superior as the men are brought up believing that they are the centre of the frickin' universe.

    And everything, literally everything, is always a woman's fault. Like when India lost to Australia in cricket recently and they blamed Kohli's wife's pregnancy for distracting him. The Infosys guy was not at fault of course, it was the woman's fault for making him feel bad about himself.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Typical Indian male behavior

      That is a mighty big brush to tar them with...

      Not all are so biased against women, though it doesn't help that we don't have enough women within our company (not for lack of HR trying, but how many female Java devs do you know?) but the Indian employees we use have always been nothing but respectful towards the female members of staff.

      Also pretty damn sure that if there was an incident like this, I would fully expect it to be reported and dealt with sternly.

      Anon because having a difference of opinion seems to be a dangerous thing lately.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical Indian male behavior

        Head of Development here for the UK arm of a large European-based global company.

        Bizarrely, exactly 50% of my Java dev team are female, and not through any forced quotas either - I just recruited the best people for the job and that's how it accidentally worked out.

        More notable though is that not a single one of my team was born in the UK, which speaks volumes about the ability of the UK education system to produce people with the right skills to be good developers. I'm not saying that they don't exist, but other countries seem to be doing much better here.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          Iran does surprisingly well in getting female graduates, and they are not the world leaders in feminism.

        2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          AC: More notable though is that not a single one of my team was born in the UK, which speaks volumes about the ability of the UK education system to produce people with the right skills to be good developers. I'm not saying that they don't exist, but other countries seem to be doing much better here.

          I have worked with 3 female DBAs (one of whom was my boss) and they were all from BRIC-countries: Russia, India & China. I can count on my hand the number of female developers that have worked for us and we have about 20 programmers.

          In the European country where I work now, the only technical roles women seem to voluntarily take on are those of requirements engineer or data scientist.

          Now, it may very well be that the company isn't offering a high enough salary and that the women who do apply know they can get more or that they get weeded out by Personnel for whatever reason, for anecdotal evidence suggests that very women come to interview with us.

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Typical Indian male behavior

            "More notable though is that not a single one of my team was born in the UK, which speaks volumes about the ability of the UK education system to produce people with the right skills to be good developers."

            I don't know for sure, but it's stastistically more likely that it speaks volumes about what you are offering in salary and working conditions.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Typical Indian male behavior

              Hah we posted basically the same thing simultaneously.

              The fact that at least two of think this backs up the theory.

              I mean, working in a concrete box in a faceless trading estate in Milton Keynes after a 2 hour commute for fuck all while being breathed on by a sanctimonious twat like the OP might be a dream for some.

              For me though, Id rather be in my air conditioned office at the end of my garden for no more than 4-5 hours a day being treated with respect by my overseas clients.

              1. First Light Silver badge

                Re: Typical Indian male behavior

                How exactly am I a sanctimonious twat for expressing my personal knowledge and experience as well as that which has been repeatedly objectively reported?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Typical Indian male behavior

                  Sanctimonious: Making a show of being morally superior to other people.

                  Because you're suggesting that your increased number of female workers is due to factors that make your employer automatically more attractive women, when it's more likely that you're simply putting off men given industry statistics.

                  Because of how difficult it can be for women to be hired in tech, it's much more likely that a woman will compromise more on working conditions, salary etc...but not because they want to.

                  Basically, what I'm getting at is that you were virtue signalling without considering the full picture.

                  Obviously, we know nothing about the packages, pay or working conditions you offer, but as another person pointed out, statistically it's unlikely your offering is great if your hiring has a natural bias towards women.

                  There are orders of magnitude more men in tech than women (unfortunately) which means if your hiring ratio are biased towards women then you are either deliberately hiring more women because they are women (which is sexist) or hardly any men are applying for your roles which would suggest your offering stinks.

                  Based on these outcomes, it would appear most folks here went with the "shit package" possibility than the sexist one...because statistically, if your package was a good one you'd get far more men apply than women which means the resulting bias would be towards men (simply because there are more men in tech). You've been given the benefit of the doubt over sexism.

                  Which is remarkably fair given that you're implying that British men are somehow inferior to BRIC women. No group is inferior and with in mind one has to assume remuneration etc simply isn't high enough for a British man to be able to take up your roles. The living costs (and expectations of living conditions) in the UK are considerably higher than in BRIC countries, therefore the demands are higher because the desire to maintain a certain standard of living need to be met...and there is nothing wrong with wanting a better quality of life in exchange for sacrificing a large chunk of your life to a career. If employers recognised that we would all be living in a much better world because unfortunately business is driven by profit and people are driven by a desire to live more comfortably. Those goals don't usually line up unless profitability has a direct benefit to the employee.

        3. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          That's because the UK IT industry outsourced and offshored in the late 90s and the decade that followed, and destroyed the pipeline.

          It's never recovered.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Typical Indian male behavior

            British talent is still here dude and we're world class. We just prefer working for firms that want us and pay well, our fellow countrymen would rather cheaply outsource than invest in its own.

            There's absolutely no way I could earn what I do working for a British firm. It's impossible.

            British firms pay approx 3-4x less than firms in other developed countries.

            Top whack in the UK working full time, I'd be looking at maybe £60k a year. Working independently with foreign businesses, I do around £200k and I don't have to work full time. So I get to spend more time with the wife and kids etc.

            To British employers, employees are just meat.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          Or it speaks volumes about the employment package you offer.

          To a foreigner anything is better than they can get in their home country.

          Foreigners are more likely to take a chance on a crazy job description as well, they'll take anything...what have they got to lose? Any job suits them.

          On the other hand a Brit (like me, looks at a job spec and when he see's a list of skills as long as his dick, he see's a firm that hasn't got a clue what it needs or a piss poor internal communications chain, basically somewhere that won't be fun to work in).

          British workers aren't escaping tyranny, crap working environments or hostile governments. So the motivation for taking a role is different.

          Calling your fellow countrymen dumb and berating the education system is disingenuous.

          We have loads of world class technical talent, some of the best in the world, we just don't have any world class businesses to work for. They're all overseas in South Korea, the US, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland etc. Which is where British talent has been going for decades.

          Why would I work for a British firm for a farting £50k a year when I can contract overseas and pay less tax for 5 times that?

          £50k is massive to a Romanian, Indian etc, which is why they come here, but to a talented Brit it's peanuts. It doesn't even get you a decent mortgage anymore.

          If your firm doesn't attract British talent it means your bosses are tight as fuck and very uncompetitive or the work environment is like a sweatshop.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Typical Indian male behavior

            This is anecdotal I know, but the company I work for has recently made one of our UK-based C# developers redundant due to market conditions. Simultaneously, and I'm sure entirely coincidentally, they are hiring C# developers in India to work in the same project team.

            The cynical amongst us might infer that this is because the company wants to employ cheaper employees with poorer working conditions and fewer rights, and don't care about the friction this creates between a management team in the UK and developers in India due to time, language, and cultural differences, they just see the bottom line. Apparently they are an "investor in people", which begs the question, "which people"?

            Anon for obvious reasons.

            1. First Light Silver badge

              Re: Typical Indian male behavior

              The cultural gap is really quite immense.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          They saw their fathers jobs outsourced to India hence the lack of interest in IT.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical Indian male behavior

        but the Indian employees we use have always been nothing but respectful towards the female members of staff.

        ...but the crux of the matter here is the question: Would they be capable of reporting to a female superior? ...and handle constructive criticism from said boss?

        (The situation described in the article is a bit vague -- I can't remember a situation where a team member of mine was berated in public by a superior. I do however remember flying off the handle last summer - in a dept meeting - and telling my boss what I felt about him, or rather his crazy schemes, and shortly after he was demoted due to gross incompetence, but that is neither here nor there as he was soliciting feedback the poor sod)

        Oh -- I am a different anon btw.

        1. First Light Silver badge

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          Also, just because they are not publicly expressing it doesn't mean they are not angry or upset about it. British and American-born people tend to assume that all cultures practice candor in communication like they do.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Typical Indian male behavior

        Not all are so biased against women, though it doesn't help that we don't have enough women within our company (not for lack of HR trying, but how many female Java devs do you know?)

        Not all? "some" is too many , and it sounds like quite a large proportion from that post.

        but anyway...

        WHY does it not help that you dont have enough women?

        Can the men in your company not be trusted to behave when they outnumber the women?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical Indian male behavior

          The notion that firms should have equality across genders is a bizarre one for me.

          You can't remove divides, they just shift.

          Therefore, I predict that in time all employees will be women (all on fixed equal pay) and all specialist contractors will be men (earning as much as they can quote). Diversity and equality rules currently only apply to employees. We may be there already.

          Forcing equality in the workplace will force things backwards. Majority female employees in fixed pay harkens back to the days of typing pools and armies.of female receptionists.

          But meh, if that's what they want...that's where we're heading again just structured differently.

      4. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Typical Indian male behavior

        No need to be Anon on my account. I don't bite. Most of the time . . .

      5. P. Lee

        Re: Typical Indian male behavior

        While I agree, I also notice that Indian boys are absolutely doted on by their parents whereas the girls are not. This produces spoiled brats.

        Look at the social and financial systems at play in India. Without masses of birth-control, men are the income earners. The more boys you have, the wealthier the family will be. The girls will marry into someone-else's family.

        Before we judge that society too harshly, remember what birth control has done in the West - our society is dying off as we fail to even replace our population.

        Maybe patriarchy is a sign of a thriving, successful society ;)

  3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    A spokeswoman then commented...

    "Allegedly... as an employer, Infosys is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion and ensuring equal opportunities for all our employees across the organization"

    And then added "...as long as you are male, Indian, and cheap."

    1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

      Re: A spokeswoman then commented...

      I am very disappointed they did not mention 'sustainability'. Uncaring bastards.

  4. NibblyPig

    Be careful what you sign, contracts aren't just for fun.

    Can't really understand why a company would release someone from a contract in order to let those people bring a lawsuit...

    Perhaps the real issue is that the clause shouldn't be legal? I don't know the particulars about what they signed but I read all my contracts carefully and know exactly how much of the shaft I'm getting (usually ridiculous handcuff clauses that are technically not legal but are impossible to contest).

    1. stungebag

      You apply for a job and, when you're offered it, you're so pleased you sign the contract of employment. They're checked as carefully as software end user agreements. You don't even realised you've signed away your right to access the legal system until it bites you.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Whilst valid point with regards to the article (so in the US), many in many jurisdictions such clauses are unenforceable and you can not (in practice) sign away your employee rights.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Be careful what you sign, contracts aren't just for fun."

      If only people didn't have to have shelter or food.

    3. alain williams Silver badge

      Unfair contracts

      Be careful what you sign, contracts aren't just for fun.

      Often the first time that you see the contract is after you have accepted the job and told your current employer that you are leaving. If, at interview, you ask for a copy of the contract you will probably be labelled a troublemaker and not be offered the job.

      Contracts should be published along with the job advertisement.

      1. Cederic Silver badge

        Re: Unfair contracts

        In the UK you get an offer, it's followed by a formal contract, and you aren't committed to accepting the job until you sign that; you start after they've received your signed contract and signed it themselves.

        So don't resign your existing role until you've seen the contract and are happy to sign it.

        Do read it, and do challenge clauses you're not happy with. I've declined a clause in a bog standard employment contract with a multinational blue-chip on the grounds it constrained and infringed on my IP rights to existing and new non-work related creative works; the HR department went, "Yeah, we didn't mean that" and we reached rapid agreement.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Unfair contracts

          In theory, yes. It's not exactly uncommon for shifty employers (and there are plenty of them) to never give the employee a copy of the contract, and just put a piece of paper in front of them to sign on the day they start the job. If the choice is between putting food on the table and not making this month's rent, there is no real choice, and unscrupulous employers take advantage of this.

          Come to think of it, I can't think of a single instance where I have been given a contract of employment to peruse at my leisure before accepting a job. Admittedly, I have been in the same job for well over a decade, so the rules may be stricter now, but considering the colour of the government that has been in place for most of that time, I doubt it. Hell, I'd be surprised if a good number of them aren't to be counted amongst those same dodgy employers, just as the majority of MPs are also landlords.

          1. Korev Silver badge

            Re: Unfair contracts

            This has been the case for both back in the UK and here in Switzerland for every professional job I've had.

          2. Phones Sheridan
            Holmes

            Re: Unfair contracts

            For the past couple of decades I've had a habit of signing and numbering each page of any document I've been given. If someone gives me a single page document, I sign it and write "page one of one"* in the corner, even if it's already numbered. It becomes harder to insert additional pages after the event that way.

            Obviously someone could mimic my handwriting and write the word "hundred" after it, but a 100 page contract of employment would seem ridiculous to any employment tribunal :)

            1. cynic56

              Re: Unfair contracts

              They just need to change it to "page one of none" and blame Microsoft Word. Simples!

  5. naive Silver badge

    Generosity with H1B is a curse

    For minorities and others who struggle to keep up with foreign nationals who are cheap and can easily be forced to do overtime for free to get their stay extended.

    It was a good move of the outgoing administration to limit H1B access.

  6. sketharaman

    Bullying yes, but Gender Discrimination? Hmmm.

    The narrated incident clearly shows bullying was involved. But I didn't find any evidence of gender discrimination. On the contrary, the very fact that a female employee was placed above a male employee in the project team hiearachy suggests the opposite.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Be careul what you cherry-pick

      And yet the alleged behaviour of HR toward the plaintif reinforces the original suggestion of gender discrimination.

      Now on its own, that might simply indicate localised gender intolerance, or a particularly crap HR drone. However, when taken with the pattern of other complaints over previous years, it does suggest a deeper problem.

      It's possible there would be a lot more complaints, were it not for forced arbitration. Speculation, of course.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Bullying yes, but Gender Discrimination? Hmmm.

      While I agree with you that the description doesn't reveal a gender based aspect to the incident, I'm also aware that we don't have the full details, or comparisons to how comparable issues have been addressed at that organisation.

      The "you didn't properly diffuse the situation" is however something I've seen before to target someone; it's a nasty one as there's often an element of truth but also an unrealistic expectation on the person that was being (verbally) attacked.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Bullying yes, but Gender Discrimination? Hmmm.

        The "you didn't properly diffuse the situation" is however something I've seen before to target someone; it's a nasty one as there's often an element of truth but also an unrealistic expectation on the person that was being (verbally) attacked.

        I doubt that would stand up in UK tribunal. Bottom line is you shouldn't have to deal with that kind of behaviour. The article suggests the person quite calmly stated just that and then just reported the matter to HR. I suppose given she was manager/superior she could be expected to have people management skills, but we all know those are not in abundance in management.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "failing to 'diffuse the conflict.'"

    They thought she should have spread it a bit wider than just her and him?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "They thought she should have spread it a bit wider than just her and him?"

      A problem shared is a problem split into tiny pieces and passed around so that everyone is stuck with it?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lack of female managers in Indian companies

    I've dealt with many good and not so good Indian IT companies, and there have been decent female developers in many of the teams I have worked with. I don't recall working with a single team where the the dev manager/team lead/scrum master/delivery manager/account manager was female.

    I've also worked with Indian origin female IT workers who don't work for Indian IT companies who were excellent dev managers/team leads/scrum masters/delivery managers/account managers.

    My conclusion: sex discrimination is rife in Indian IT and those who can't grow a moustache and want to get ahead go and work elsewhere.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Lack of female managers in Indian companies

      I have seen Infosys wheel in their global expert, and speak of her in revered tones.

      She was good too.

      I'll accept the point on the moustache though.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Lack of female managers in Indian companies

        Was she an expert or a manager?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On gender and race

    I work for a relatively small, but truly global company.

    We have employees on 6 continents working from offices or remotely and our gender breakdown is fairly even (if you take all roles into consideration, but there is the usual technical vs admin bias.)

    I also use an Indian sub contractor where our main point of contact is female (her role is analogous to Project Leader/Manager).

    For many years I have always been proud to say I work for a company where "we employ the best of the best, regardless!"

    Other than time-zone it makes no difference to me who I am working with.

    Now we have a black man in charge (parachuted in by VC owners), we have to positively discriminate and employ black people first!

    BLM is being pushed into our faces at every opportunity.

    And all our philanthropy in the US is going to black projects.

    I feel positive discrimination is the worst of the worst!

    Anon as we are now being subjected to non-anonymous race and gender based surveys (and they wonder why no-one fills them in!) And I'm sure that this being attributed to me would be career limiting.

  10. TimMaher Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    F International

    Bring it back.

    Where is Steve Shirley when we need her?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Just InfoSys

    Having recently had to complete the mandatory training my new giant palm oil refinery outsourcer has had me complete has been a huge eye opener. As a uk citizen I've worked for a number of american giant outsourcers in the past and never read or seen anything quite like the training material i had to go through for their global compliance.

    It did leave me thinking what kind of company am i working for that has to deliver this kind of training to their staff.

    It wasn't my choice to work for them.

    I'd only choose to work for them if i thought i could make a genuine difference to their outlook and home culture, that won't happen for a long long time.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Not Just InfoSys

      Company training courses are interesting. I did lots of 'Change Management' courses at one employer, and all were about implementing a change the management had decided upon, none were about telling the Management that their change needed changing.

      Curiously, I did not find any courses on 'speaking truth to power' in the staff training manual, or 'listening to your subordinates' either. Maybe there's a gap in the market that someone could fill and make lots of money from.

      I'll get my coat, it's the one with the rainbows, unicorns and levitating pigs.

  12. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Contractual clauses

    Many years ago I was offered a job by a now taken-over IT company. Two clauses in the contract caught my eye:

    One required that I surrendered my rights under the working time directive of the EU.

    The other stated that I could be summarily dismissed without compensation were I to be detained under section 7 of the Mental Health Act.

    So basically, they could work me to insanity and then sack me. Even though it would have meant a £10k per annum pay rise I declined.

    I reckon that any clause which basically denies your right to a remedy in law, should be deemed null and void, including ones which wold prevent you taking part in a class action lawsuit, or force arbitration when a possibly criminal offence has been committed.

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