Indian-American engineer files lawsuit after getting fired for speaking in Hindi during call with dying relative

  Bhavya Bhavya   6658   03 Aug, 2023 

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Anil Varshney, a Senior Systems Engineer, filed a federal lawsuit alleging systemic discriminatory actions, due to which he suffered job loss in October last year An Indian-American engineer in the US state of Alabama was terminated from his longstanding job at a missile defense contractor for communicating in Hindi language during a video call with his dying relative in India. Anil Varshney, a senior systems engineer with Huntsville missile defense contractor Parsons Corporation, filed a federal lawsuit alleging systemic discriminatory actions, due to which he suffered job loss in October last year. During a conversation with his dying-brother-in law in India, the 71-year-old was speaking in Hindi, when a white co-worker heard him, as per a report by AL.COM. What happened? Varshney received a video call on 26 September, 2022, from his elderly brother-in-law who was on his deathbed in India and wanted to say a final goodbye to Varshney. Understanding the possibility of never speaking to his brother again, Varshney stepped into an empty cubicle and accepted the call. Before doing so, he ensured that there were no classified materials or any work-related documents from the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) or Parsons near him, according to the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit filed in June in the northern district of Alabama, Varshney and his brother-in-law spoke for around two minutes in Hindi during a video call. However, another worker interrupted Varshney and inquired about the call, which he acknowledged. The co-worker informed Varshney that video calls were not permitted, prompting Varshney to immediately end the call. Sadly, this call turned out to be the last time Varshney spoke to his brother-in-law before Gupta passed away. Why was Varshney alleged for security violation? Further the suit claims, the other worker felt intimidated by Varshney, as he couldn’t comprehend the language. Subsequently, the co-worker ‘falsely and intentionally’ reported the incident to the authorities alleging Varshney of security violation by by either disclosing confidential information during the call or accepting the call in the presence of confidential information or during a confidential meeting. “Despite there being no policy prohibiting the call, and without any investigation, the defendants claimed Varshney committed a serious security violation and fired him. Worse, they blackballed him from future [Missile Defence Agency] work, effectively ending his career and life of service to MDA and the US government,” the lawsuit said. Varshney was previously recognized as the “Contractor of the Year” in systems engineering and was commended by MDA with a recommendation letter for his efforts in saving USD 5 million on the ground-based missile defense program. He provided engineering support for the development of integrated and layered missile defence systems which defend the United States and allied partner forces against ballistic missile threats

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