Anil Varshney, a 78-year-old Indian-American senior systems engineer, has filed a federal lawsuit against Parsons Corporation and the US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin. He alleges wrongful termination from his job for conversing in Hindi on a video call with his dying brother-in-law.
The incident occurred on 26 September, 2022, when Varshney received a call from his brother-in-law, who was seriously ill. Varshney took the conversation to a vacant cubicle so that he could speak with his brother-in-law for a few minutes, probably for the last time ever, given his condition. Varshney maintains that he was careful to not have any confidential or sensitive materials pertaining to his work, which involved the US government’s missile defence agency or MDA and Parsons, the missile defence contractor from Alabama.
However, a white colleague who overheard the Hindi conversation, reported Varshney for wrongfully taking a call with confidential information around him, and thus, violating security and company rules. Surprisingly, Varshney was charged by Parsons of security violation without the matter being investigated. No proof was presented against him either before his termination.
Varshney’s lawsuit seeks justice, demanding reinstatement to a similar position and removal of disciplinary records. He wishes to be compensated for the emotional distress that he underwent. He also demands punitive and liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees.
The company, meanwhile, has denied the allegations and has requested that the lawsuit be dismissed. In fact, Parsons wants Varshney to pay their attorney’s fees.
This case underscores the need for fair treatment and thorough investigations in sensitive matters. It emphasises the critical role of human resources in handling employee issues with sensitivity and avoiding potential discrimination