Indian employee in US sues TCS

The suit would be one of the first filed against a firm engaged in bringing non-US citizens to work in US corporations.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 15:07 IST

An Indian working in California has filed a class action lawsuit against Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), alleging that the company collected tax refunds owed to its non-US citizen workers.

In a suit filed against Tata America International Corporation (TAIC) and its parent corporations -- TCS and Tata Sons Ltd. -- on Tuesday, Gopi Vedachalam, contends he was instructed to sign over his federal and state tax refund checks to TCS, a media report said.

US citizens of the company, however, were not asked to sign over their returns, the lawsuit alleged.

Vedachalam, who transferred to the Bay Area in 2000 from Bangalore, was assigned by TCS to work as a project manager at Target, where he made $50,000 a year. From 2000 to 2005, the refunds he signed over to TCS totalled $25,000, according to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco's federal district court.

"As we understand it, that is his money," his lawyer San Francisco-based Steven Tindall was quoted as saying by the 'San Jose Mercury News'.

An official with TCS, which has 9,500 workers in North America, told the paper he had not seen the lawsuit. "To the best of my knowledge, we have not been officially served with the legal papers," TCS spokesman Mike McCabe said, adding "When we are, we will respond appropriately. We take this very seriously."

If certified as a class action case, the suit would be one of the first filed against a company engaged in bringing non-US citizens to the United States to work in American corporations, Tindall said.

While the exact number of non-US citizens working in California affected by the company's practices is not known, the lawsuit said TCS employed hundreds of non-US citizens throughout the state at the end of 2005.

Thousands of current and former TCS employees are believed to have been affected by the practices, Tindall said. The lawsuit seeks to represent all non-U.S. Citizen employees of TCS who worked in US between February 14, 2000 and present.

In a statement, Vedachalam said "I work hard for Tata and the companies I have been assigned to. I should receive the full wages Tata agreed to pay me, as should all other Tata employees in America." "I did not hand over my tax refund checks voluntarily. I tried to recover these wages through Tata's internal procedures, but I was met with either silence or refusal."

TCS also kept non-US Employees from being paid for vacation time they did not use and could not roll over to the following year, according to the lawsuit.

While all TCS workers in the US received 15 vacation days and could carry over five unused days to the next year, US citizens could get cash for any unused days, but non-citizens had to forfeit that pay, the suit alleged.

Only non-US citizens who worked for TCS in California from February 2002 through the present are eligible for the suit's broader claim pertaining to lost vacation wages. State law entitles California workers to receive pay for vacation time earned but not taken.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 14:50 IST