Indian Muslim employee sues Accenture for alleged discrimination

03 November 2017 4 min. read
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In a case of alleged racial discrimination, an Indian Muslim under the employment of US-based consulting giant Accenture has filed a lawsuit against the firm, claiming that he was given unequal pay, denied benefits, and even assigned a much heavier workload than his peers, purely out of mal-intent.

Mohammed Ali, an Indian origin practicing Muslim, has taken consulting firm Accenture to court over allegations of racial discrimination. According to Ali, the firm demonstrated blatant bias in a number of aspects of his work life. Firstly, his salary itself was allegedly much less than what his peers received. In addition, Ali said that he was demoted and even denied his annual bonus, despite the fact that he had regularly met and exceeded his annual sales target. Regarding the sales target itself, Ali claims that the target of $50 million in sales assigned to him was well in excess of the $30 million that was assigned to his colleagues.

To make matters worse, Ali claims that the actions were deliberately racist, motivated by the political opinions of his manager, allegedly a white Trump supporter. According to Ali, his manager had previously expressed his support for Trump, and, when confronted by Ali about the unequal sales target, said that he “wasn’t going to be like Bernie Sanders and give handouts.”

Indian Muslim employee sues Accenture for alleged discrimination

The flashpoint of the incident occurred when Ali’s sales figures came up short for the last fiscal year at $40.9 million, and he was subsequently demoted. As per his complaint filed with the Houston Federal Court, his sales figures were deliberately tampered with and diminshed in order to ensure his demotion. Ali contends that the incident caused him to personally lose out on millions of dollars.

The incident represents one of many reports of workplace discrimination in the US in recent times, which is perhaps reflective of the broadly divisive and polarised phase that American politics is currently navigating. This is the second racially charged accusation that Accenture itself has faced in recent times. Last year, Indian origin Elton Kent lodged a complaint against the firm, stating that hundreds of foreign employees who were participating in the company’s Global Careers Program, including himself, were given lower compensation as well as fewer benefits than their American counterparts.

At the time, Accenture neither admitted nor denied the allegations, but settled the case for $500,000. In the months to follow, the firm launched an inclusiveness and diversity campaign internally, in a bid to foster an integrative environment amongst their staff. This time, while condemning discriminatory practices and championing the cause of diversity in a statement, the company spokesperson Stacey Jones stated that Ali’s claims lacked merit. Meanwhile Ali’s lawyer, Mark Oberti refused to comment on the matter.

Problems elsewhere

Divisive political rhetoric appears to be rearing its head everywhere, and the problem is not restricted to the US. Consulting firms in the UK have also recently discovered deficiencies in their policies of inclusiveness and racial equality, hinting at anti-immigrant sentiments manifesting themselves in the UK as well. For instance, Big Four professional services firm EY reported earlier this year that their mean ethnicity pay gap stood at 17%, while rival firm PwC reported that their Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) stood at 12%.

PwC has had legal troubles of its own surrounding racial discrimination in the past, having been challenged at UK employment tribunals in two high-profiles cases in 2009 and 2011. Romanian national Mihaela Popa and Sri Lankan Pedropillai both claimed that racially motivated factors had prevented them from realising their true career potential at the firm. The cases were resolved with small settlements at the time, and were termed as isolated incidents by the court.