Indian employees of IT services giant Tata Consultancy Services working in the US have won the right to sue the company over what they claim are unpaid wages.
In 2006, TCS workers deputised to US clients brought two class action suits against the company. The suits alleged that TCS had unfairly reduced their salaries and forced them to pay tax refunds to the company.
TCS has since filed multiple motions to dismiss the claims. In early 2007, the company tried to have the proceedings moved to India, but its motion was denied, as was its subsequent appeal. The company then filed motions to dismiss or streamline the case two further times, arguing that the plaintiffs’ case "lacked legal merit". Both motions were dismissed.
Yesterday, the Northern District Court of California decided that the two class action law suits could proceed.
"[The plaintiffs] will have their day in court in the United States before a neutral judge, not in India in front of a private arbitrator of Tata’s choosing," said Kelly Dermody of law firm Lieff Cabraser, which is representing the TCS workers. "[The plaintiffs] and the thousands of workers they seek to represent are an important step closer to obtaining justice."
“I am very happy with the Court’s decision today," said Gopi Vedachalam, a former TCS worker who had been seconded to US retailer Target. "It means that my former colleagues and I are one step closer to holding Tata accountable."
TCS told Reuters that the court’s ruling was merely a ‘procedural matter’. "TCS continues to believe that when this matter concludes, the court will find that the plaintiff’s claims are without any merit," it said.
Fellow Indian IT outsourcer Infosys is also currently embroilled in a labour dispute in the US. An IT consultant has accused the company of using temporary work visas to import Indian workers for long-term contracts. Infosys denies the allegations.