Problem: You are a lawyer with a small firm and are suing mighty Facebook for discrimination in favor of H-1B workers (mostly from India) and you do not want to appear to be anti-Indian.
Solution: You name, as chief plaintiff, a naturalized citizen with a wonderfully Indian name, Purushothaman Rajaram. The first name means “honest man” in Hindi.
Facebook — now Meta Platforms, Inc. — faces some huge problems, such as its stock losing 50 percent of its value in the last few months, so the class action suit against its hiring practices may appear to be a minor irritation, but it is telling in its details.
This is also a David vs. Goliath story of a small D.C.-based law firm, Kotchen & Low LLP, taking on one of the world’s largest corporations and, indirectly, the controversial CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. The firm, as we reported earlier, has filed other suits of this nature against big H-1B users.
The thrust is all too familiar. The plaintiff in this class action case says that he, despite excellent (he says) IT credentials, was twice not hired by Facebook because the firm preferred the less expensive and more malleable H-1B workers. He said that he and others in this putative class suffered from this discrimination against non-visa workers. The case, Rajaram v. Meta Platforms, Inc, is in the federal court in the district of Northern California; its PACER number is 3:22-cv-02920.
What I found particularly interesting in the case — something not stressed by the lawyers — was the documentation of a pattern that I have been hearing about for years: that the decision-makers in the IT hiring process are often from the subcontinent and sometimes other H-1Bs. I have an informant, a citizen IT professional, who says that his job applications are almost always handled by people with Indian accents and sometimes, he suspects, calling from India.
Rajaram, according to the complaint in the case, talked to five different personnel officers in an effort to get hired by Infosys, a labor broker, for a job at Facebook; all five had Indian names. In his effort to get hired directly by Facebook, he was interviewed by two people with Indian names. There is no mention in the complaint about anybody in the hiring process having anything but an Indian name.
Facebook, with its immense wealth can easily afford to settle out of court, and may do so. I, for one, hope that this goes to trial and is won by Purushothaman Rajaram.