Infosys accused of age discrimination in job adverts

A US man has filed a lawsuit charging that outsourcer Infosys listed job ads on Monster.com that automatically discrimated against older workers.

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A lawsuit has been filed claiming that requirements in job ads posted by offshore company Infosys Technologies automatically discriminate against older workers.

Ralph DeVito, a US resident who filed the lawsuit, had applied for two tech job openings advertised by Infosys on Monster.com. One Infosys job posting set a "maximum experience" requirement of 15 years, and another set a limit of 25 years.

DeVito filled out the online forms but his applications "were immediately and automatically rejected" because he didn't satisfy the maximum experience requirements, according to his lawsuit. DeVito, who was 58 when he applied for the jobs, has more than 25 years of experience in the jobs sought.

"Simply doing the math, 25 years' experience boxes out anyone who is over 40," said John Roberts, an attorney at Arseneault Whipple Fassett & Azzarello, who represents DeVito. Infosys said it doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Monster Worldwide was also named in the lawsuit. A spokesman for the jobs site said that "all the processes therein were designed and controlled by Infosys and hosted on Infosys' website."

The lawsuit contends that Monster should have known that "maximum experience" requirements "constituted a de facto age limit." According to the lawsuit, DeVito believed he had met the job requirements.

One of the job ads, provided by his attorney, sought a senior principal infrastructure consultant. Among the skills required was the ability to demonstrate expertise in at least one core infrastructure area: systems management, operations, database management or network management.

The experience requirement in the ad was exceedingly narrow. It sought a candidate in an "expected experience range" of between a "minimum 12 years & maximum 15 years."

As a rule, job ads that appear to have tailored requirements have drawn the attention of H-1B opponents. Companies hiring prospective foreign workers carrying a a green card, which allows permanent residency, must first advertise the job to show that no qualified Americans are available for it.

A videotape of a workshop for lawyers about this process, distributed on YouTube by the Programmers Guild, however, explained how employers can legally reject qualified US applicants.

DeVito initially filed a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC, in a letter to DeVito, wrote, "We found that you were discriminated against in violation of the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)."

The EEOC also told DeVito that it was unsuccessful in an attempt "to facilitate a successful conciliation" between the parties. The EEOC decided not to bring a lawsuit, but told DeVito that he had a right to sue. The EEOC doesn't file lawsuit every time it rules a complainant was discriminated against.

According to US labour data, the recession hit older tech workers hard. For computer professionals, age 55 years and older, the unemployment rate jumped overall from 6% to 8.4% from 2009 to 2010. For men it was 8% and for women, 9.4%.

Most of Infosys workers in the US are from India, and are using either H-1B or L-1 visas. But a recent lawsuit also cites its use of the B-1 visa, a visitor visa. Last fall Infosys said it had plans to hire 1,000 US workers.

DeVito is seeking a jury trial and damages.

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