IT workers at the University of California intend to file a lawsuit challenging their dismissal after they were replaced by offshore workers, arguing that those sacked from the UC San Francisco campus were discriminated against based on age and national origin.
Around 80 people lost their positions in the department, including 50 full-time workers and 30 contractors, in a move that is unheard of in the public sector, where offsourcing is much less common than in the private sector. UCSF hired the India-based firm HCL to handle its services instead of the American workers.
Randall Strauss from Gwilliam Ivary Chiosso Cavalli & Brewer, the attorney representing the ex-employees, argued that “to take a workforce that is overwhelmingly over the age of 40 and replace them with folks who are mainly in their 20s – early 20s, in fact – we think is age discrimination.” The group also represents and “reflects the diversity of California” – to allow them to be “replaced with people who come from one particular part of the world” is discrimination based on their national origin, continued Strauss. The lawsuit will be filed in Alameda County Superior Court.
On Wednesday, details about UCSF’s financial situation emerged that may help the IT workers in their case. A report by a California state auditor found an undisclosed $175 million in funds in the university’s budget; the outsourcing would be estimated to save $10 million a year for the next 5 years.
The lead counsel on the case, J. Gary Gwilliam, released a statement on the subject of the university funding:
It is unbelievable to me that a public university would ship good American jobs overseas by telling the fired workers, the Regents, the Legislature and public of a crying need to save money, while at the same time maintaining a secret slush fund of $175 million dollars which would more than cover the cost of keeping all these jobs in California, leaving more than enough money leftover to cover the needs of the University and its students.
Similar lawsuits have been popping up around the country recently. In December, former IT workers at Disney filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that American workers were being discriminated against in favor of hiring H-1B visa workers from overseas. Some staff members even alleged that they were forced to train their foreign replacements before being allowed to take their redundancy check.