Huawei sued by British software engineer for racial discrimination

Chinese telecoms company Huawei has been accused of racial discrimination by a British software engineer who was recently made redundant from the company’s Basingstoke office.

The 39-year-old fibre optics specialist, Judeson Peter, told an employment tribunal in Southampton that he lost his job because he was British, according to the Daily Mail.

Peter, born in Sri Lanka but a British national since the 1990s, claimed that there was “clearly” a growing number of Chinese staff at the company, while other workers were being made redundant.

Over three years, Huawei allegedly moved 342 to the UK, while 49 existing local staff lost their jobs.

Peter joined Huawei in April 2006, but was made redundant three years later in May 2009.

He said: “A large number of Chinese employees were joining the workforce in 2009 at the same time that I was being made redundant.

“I believe I could have done these roles. Far more non-Chinese employees have been selected for redundancy than Chinese employees.

“With regard to engineers, it should be noted that not a single Chinese engineer has been made redundant, whereas 30 non-Chinese have been.”

Peter went on to claim that Huawei’s HR manager sent an email on 21 April 2009, which stated that expat employees were exempt from the job cuts.

“This is a clear racial discrimination against non-Chinese employees as most expats are Chinese.

“I believe I have been unfairly pre-selected for redundancy and have been selected due to my age and race in that I am not Chinese,” Peter said.

However, Huawei’s lawyer, Tony Cooper, claimed that Peter’s figures were not accurate.

“The figures you have given cannot be relied on. The numbers are not reflective of the number of visas granted or the number of people who have come to work in the UK,” Cooper said.

The company claims that in 2009 it employed 342 staff in the UK, including local and foreign nationals, and that around 70 percent of these were recruited locally.

Today Huawei has 650 workers in the UK, of which it said 75 percent are local recruits.

Cooper added that the Chinese expats went through a different redundancy process because they were employed by the holding company in China and were only on secondment in the UK.

“They did not work for the UK-based company. The whole company was affected by economic circumstances and changes in the organisation of their competitors,” Cooper said.

Huawei has denied all of Peter’s allegations, and said that in 2009 it made a series of redundancies that resulted in 25 percent of British workers and 32 percent of Chinese employees losing their jobs.

“Mr Peter was employed as an optical customer support engineer at the time of restructuring.

“Huawei began a fair review, strictly following selection criteria feedback. Mr Peter scored the lowest number of points, so unfortunately he had to be made redundant.

“Huawei believes that the process followed was fair and in line with the approach other companies operating in the UK would take to restructuring,” a Huawei spokesperson said.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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