Los Angeles, CA, June 26, 2023 — A two-week trial of race and national origin discrimination claims brought against Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation in federal court ended in a mistrial because the jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. The jurors were split 6 to 2 in favor of Plaintiffs and the Class. A re-trial of the claims has been scheduled for February 20, 2024.
Plaintiffs allege that Cognizant discriminated in favor of employees of Indian national origin and South Asian race, and that non-South Asians were eight times more likely to be terminated from the bench than South Asians. Plaintiffs presented evidence of stark statistical disparities, a reasonable cause finding by the EEOC that Cognizant engaged in a pattern of discrimination against these groups, evidence of policies favoring Indian visa workers in placements for new positions, and anecdotal evidence of a cultural preference for Indians.
Plaintiffs brought claims under Title VII and Section 1981 for intentional discrimination, and under Title VII for disparate impact. In October 2022, Judge Dolly Gee certified a class of non-South Asian and non-Indian employees who were terminated from the bench while employed by Cognizant in certain mid-level positions between September 18, 2013 and October 27, 2022.
The claims are being pursued under the bifurcated Teamsters framework, under which the jury was asked to decide at the Phase I trial whether Cognizant had engaged in a pattern-or-practice of intentional discrimination. Phase II will address individual claims and defenses. The disparate impact claim will be decided by the Court.
Plaintiffs offered strong evidence of discrimination during the trial. According to the foreperson, the statistical evidence was particularly persuasive, and the two jurors that favored Cognizant “weren’t being responsive to the evidence,” and “‘weren’t open, just from the get-go’”—one “‘put his head down . . . [and] wouldn’t look at the evidence.’” Gina Kim, Cognizant Jury Deadlocks on Claims of Non-Indian Bias, Law360 (June 26, 2023), available at https://www.law360.com/articles/1693091/ cognizant-jury-deadlocks-onclaims-of-non-indian-bias.
Plaintiffs are confident in their case on re-trial and are optimistic that the jury and Court will side with them next February.
Updated to add new trial date.