Class Action Suit Seeks $100 Million for Pregnancy Discrimination, Other Violations

Maternity CurvesA class action lawsuit against the Indian corporation Larsen & Toubro and L&T Infotech, its American subsidiary, alleges pregnancy discrimination and other discrimination. The plaintiff sought the court’s leave to amend the complaint in order to add a second plaintiff to the case and increase the damage demand to $100 million. The suit alleges multiple instances of discrimination against female employees based on pregnancy, other acts of discrimination or harassment based on gender, and violations of immigration laws.

L&T Infotech is an IT services company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mumbai, India-based multinational conglomerate Larsen & Toubro. The original plaintiff, Deepa Shanbhag, contacted L&T about a job opening for a “business analyst” in the fall of 2010, according to her complaint. L&T directed her to a third-party vendor to submit her application. She was hired on a “contract to hire” basis in October 2010, and became a full L&T employee in January 2011.

Shanbhag became pregnant in early 2011, a fact that she says was known to her colleagues for several weeks. She formally notified her employer of her pregnancy on March 2, and requested a copy of the company’s maternity policy. She says she did not receive an immediate response. On March 4, she was fired, thirty-eight days after her official hire date, with the stated reason that “her position was being eliminated.”

Nanda Pai, who seeks to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff, began working for L&T’s human resources department in February 2006. She alleges that her salary was substantially lower than the salaries of male employees with similar positions, and that she was limited to administrative duties despite her “manager” title. When she complained about the disparity in salary, she alleges that she was subjected to harassment based on her gender, including claims that her salary was just a “bonus” to her husband’s salary. She attempted to resign, but withdrew her resignation when management promised to remedy the pay discrimination.

In July 2008, Pai reportedly told her employer that she was pregnant. The company allegedly told her to choose between her career or her family. At about the same time, an audit of the company’s employment records found significant problems with the company’s handling of employment visas for its employees. Pai says that company tried to make her the scapegoat for all the errors, allegedly by backdating documents and even forging her signature.

Pai reported her second pregnancy in January 2009. She says that the company increased her workload in response, causing her to work up to eighteen hours per day, six days per week to keep up, with no overtime pay. She took maternity leave after her health deteriorated, and returned to work after the birth to find herself demoted. The company continued to force her to work longer hours than her male colleagues, she alleges, before firing her in June 2010.

Shanbhag sued L&T and its parent company for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit seeks certification as a class action and damages in excess of $100 million for the class.

The New York pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates help safeguard the rights protected by anti-discrimination laws for both employees and job seekers. Contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Web Resources:

Proposed Third Amended Class Action Complaint (PDF), Shanbhag, et al vs. Larsen & Toubro Infotech, et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, April 2, 2012
More Blog Posts:

New York Hair Salon Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Suit for $30,000, New York Employment Attorney Blog, April 6, 2012
Immigrant and Latina Workers in New York Face Sexual Harassment, Other Employment Discrimination, New York Employment Attorney Blog, March 7, 2012
Judge Rules that Lactation is Not Related to Pregnancy, So Firing a Worker for Wanting to Pump Breast Milk is Not Illegal, New York Employment Attorney Blog, February 21, 2012
Photo credit: ‘Maternity Curves’ by Sean McGrath from Saint John, NB, Canada (Maternity Curves) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Contact Information