Skip the navigation

Fired IT workers file lawsuit claiming H-1B workers replaced them

Workers file suit against Molina Healthcare and its outsourcer, Cognizant

July 12, 2011 03:53 PM ET

Computerworld - Eighteen IT workers in California have filed a lawsuit against their former employer claiming they were replaced by H-1B workers from India and then laid off in violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws.

In the lawsuit, the 18 workers say that IT managers at Molina Healthcare Inc. increasingly catered to the Indian workers while leaving U.S. workers, mostly security analysts and programmers who earned at least $75,000 a year, feeling excluded prior getting laid off last year.

The lawsuit, filed in April in Los Angeles Superior Court against Molina, its CIO at the time, and Molina's outsourcer, Cognizant Technology Solutions, contends that over a period of several years the U.S. workers were marginalized as the IT department became dominated by Indian nationals.

The laid off IT workers used anecdotes to make part of their case.

For instance, the workers describe an IT department that took to celebrating Indian holidays, while Indian managers "actively discouraged U.S. workers from celebrating U.S. holidays and traditions, such as Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, by assigning mandatory work that, in order to be timely completely, required work during holidays traditionally celebrated in America."

The lawsuit says that non-Indian workers were kept from participating in critical decision making processes "for the purpose of putting them at a disadvantage to the employees of Indian descent."

It also charges that the IT management team only hired and promoted Indian nationals

Some meetings that had long been conducted in English, would "on many occasions" be conducted in "the native language of Indian employees," the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit makes a number of charges, including discrimination based on national origin.

"The IT department was known as little India," said James Otto, an attorney for the 18 former Molina IT employees. The 18 workers were among 40 that were laid off in January, 2010. The 18 workers that filed suit claim the layoffs were made to make room for H-1B workers.

"They just wanted to fire the Americans, and that's what happened. It wasn't a downsizing, it wasn't an outsourcing, it was bringing in foreigners onto American soil to replace American workers. That [was] the scheme and it's going on around the country," said Otto.

Molina officials, in a written response to a Computerworld query, said the action is "nothing more than a shakedown lawsuit brought by a plaintiff's attorney who -- when the company refused his ridiculous financial demands -- filed a legal action grounded in falsehoods and malicious gossip."

Otto said he never made any demands and he had initially sought mediation.

Molina, in its statement, also said that "we will win in court because specific allegations in the lawsuit have been examined and found false. The fact that the general allegations also provide no basis for legal claims confirms that this plaintiffs' attorney included them solely for media attention."



Our Commenting Policies