Just an error? Firm's rejection of Muslim candidate raises questions

A leading diamond export company's explanation that an "error" by a human resources trainee led to a Muslim candidate being denied a job has come up for scrutiny.
Updated on May 22, 2015 01:42 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

A leading diamond export company's explanation that an "error" by a human resources trainee led to a Muslim candidate being denied a job has come up for scrutiny.

The MBA graduate, Zeshan Ali Khan, lodged a police complaint on Thursday, accusing Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd of "religious discrimination".

The firm has "deeply regretted" the incident, but its explanation of the incident has raised the following questions:

Working for four years, still an HR trainee?

Khan applied for a job with the diamond export firm on May 19. But the company's reply within minutes of the application read: "Thanks for your application. We regret to inform you that we hire only non-Muslim candidates."

Khan posted about the incident on Facebook and soon the matter snowballed into a controversy, prompting associate vice-president and the head of human resource department of the firm, Mahendra S Deshmukh, to issue an explanation. "We would like to clarify that the company does not discriminate candidates for appointment based on gender, caste, religion, etc. Any hurt caused in the matter is deeply regretted," he said. Deshmukh said a trainee, Dipika Tike, had sent the "erroneous" e-mail.

Tike, whose LinkedIn page was deactivated shortly after the controversy erupted, graduated from the University of Mumbai in 2010 with 'Human Resources Management' as her specialty. This information was obtained from screenshots of her purported LinkedIn page posted by users on Twitter. Hindustan Times could not independently verify the authenticity of the image.

Before joining the diamond firm, Tike worked with the Gammon group as an 'HR executive' and 'Manager-HR and admin' with Muez-Hest India Pvt Ltd, according to the screenshot of the LinkedIn page.

Tike came to Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd with four years of experience and joined the firm with the job title 'Human Resources Generalist'. Her job description at the firm was "recruitment, employee engagement, MIS, etc." The page did not mention "HR trainee" under any field of expertise.

If Tike wasn't authorised to take a call on jobs, why did she have access to the firm's official recruitment ID?

Khan sent the mail applying for the job to 'careers@diamondbyhk.com' -- an official recruitment email ID of the firm - and not to Tike's email address. The fact that Tike had access to the company's official 'careers' ID and responded to Khan's email indicates she was authorised to take a call on recruitments.

Khan's sister, who spoke to Hindustan Times but did not wish to be named, said: "Why will any employee take any decision without the company's instruction? You (employees) do only the stuff the company says. It is not natural that an employee would take an independent decision like this one."

Why did Tike's LinkedIn account page disappear right after the controversy?

If the diamond export firm had nothing to hide and the denial of the job to Khan was a "mistake", why did Tike's LinkedIn page disappear as soon as the controversy broke out? "It appears she was pressured to take down the LinkedIn page. She is being made a scapegoat," Khan's sister said.

Khan was not available to comment on the issue as he was busy with television interviews and had left his personal cellphone with his sister.

Hindustan Times contacted Hari Krishna Exports Pvt Ltd, but was told by the reception desk that people authorised to speak on the matter were in a meeting and would call back. Subsequent calls to the company went unanswered.

The diamond firm's founder and chairman, Savji Dholakia, spoke at this year's Vibrant Gujarat summit. The exporting company, which has its manufacturing units in Gujarat's Surat in and its marketing and sales office in Mumbai, has been awarded by the Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council.

: Mumbai firm rejects MBA graduate's job application because he is Muslim

    Nisheeth Upadhyay manages and edits the news sections of Hindustantimes.com. He manages the homepage, handles daily news and plans and organises long-term projects. His idea of fun is handling big, breaking news.

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