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Jun
2015
17

Indian Temp Visa Holder Blows Whistle on Slew of Violations in Multi-Million Dollar IT Class Action

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A class action lawsuit against information technology (IT) company Wipro claims that the company misclassified up to 200 employees in order to avoid paying them overtime wages.  The case was brought by Suri Payala, an Indian national who worked for Wipro on a L-1B visa as a computer technician.  L-1B visas allow foreign workers who classify as qualified, specialized knowledge employees to work in the United States for up to five years. 

The lawsuit claims that while being outsourced by Wipro to Direct TV, Payala and his fellow workers were illegally exempted from overtime wages.  He argues that Wipro makes more than two times what they pay their employees when they take on outsourcing work. For the first six months of 2014, Payala was classified as an “architect” while performing his job as a computer technician.  The misclassification allowed the company to bypass California labor laws.  The unpaid overtime lawsuit alleges that:

Wipro intentionally misclassified its employees who provided computer support, troubleshooting, and technical repair services as employees exempt from overtime pay. Although various exemptions from overtime pay exist under California law, according to California statute computer and technological support employees are only exempt if they make more than an annual salary of $84,130. Payala argues that while he was employed at Wipro as a computer technician he was outsourced to DirecTV, but was not paid for overtime or travel time to the outsourced job site even though he was earning less than $7,000 per month.

The suit also claims that the abuse was widespread among the company’s L-1B visa holders and “took advantage of the employees’ lack of knowledge concerning California’s wage and hour laws.” Wipro has announced that they will vigorously defend their actions in court.  

Wipro’s first action was to have the case moved from the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles to the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  State law allows such a transfer for disputes that will exceed $5 million.  Speaking to American Bazaar, Wipro’s lawyers said they had pegged the total at slightly over $7 million.  

Along with the allegations of misclassification and wage theft, the lawsuit suggests Wipro failed to pay all wages owed for every pay period, failed to furnish timely and accurate wage statements, failed to pay all wages upon separation, and violated California’s Unfair Competition Act.  Payala also claims that the company failed to properly pay him for food and rest breaks.  

The class action can include any employee who performed services for Wipro in the four-year period prior to Match 30th, 2015 who was compensated less than $7,000 per month.

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