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Sun Microsystems sued for 'favouring' Indian workers

By Shakti Bhatt in New York
March 19, 2003 15:11 IST
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Sun Microsystems, the Silicon Valley computer giant, was hit with a lawsuit on Monday alleging that the firm laid off thousands of US high-tech workers in order to replace them with younger, lower-paid engineers from India.

Sun Microsystems was co-founded by IITian and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Scott McNealy (the current CEO) in 1982. With a market cap of over $150 billion, it is the largest corporation founded by an Indian. After leading the company for four years he left to become a general partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.

The lawsuit comes at a time when US hi-tech workers have mobilised themselves against what they see as discrimination practiced by tech firms in favor of foreign workers.

The target is the H-1B visa programme that allows the companies to bring Indian workers for a temporary period.

As evidence, the lawsuit cites statements made this year by Khosla on a CBS program on IIT where he was quoted as saying that at Sun, people from India 'are favored over almost anybody else.'

The lawsuit, for which class-action is being sought, was brought by Walter Kruz, a 52-year-old, a former software engineer manager at the company. Kruz claims discrimination based on race, national origin and age. He seeks compensation for lost wages, attorneys' fees and unspecified punitive damages.

His lawyer, James Caputo said that the case is unprecedented in its size -- there are more than 1000 plaintiffs. "I get more and more calls everyday," he told

"This case is not an attack on the H-1B visa but the abuse of it by this company which is significant."

Sun's spokesperson was not available for comment.

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Shakti Bhatt in New York