US firm sued by man fired ‘for speaking in Hindi’

Gavel representative photo
Image caption,The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Alabama

An Indian-American engineer has sued a US defence company, alleging it fired him after a colleague heard him speaking in Hindi in the office.

In a lawsuit filed in an Alabama court, Anil Varshney has accused Parsons Corporation of “unlawful discriminatory actions”.

He says he was speaking to a dying relative in India when the co-worker falsely reported him for violating “security regulations”.

Parsons has denied the allegations.

“Mr Varshney was terminated after several security violations, including using Facetime on his personal phone in a government-controlled worksite among other previous security violations where such actions are prohibited and pose risks to national security,” it said in a statement shared with the BBC.

The company added that the “series of documented improper conduct” violated both company and government policies.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of Alabama, also names US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin as the legal representative for the country’s Missile Defence Agency (MDA).

According to the lawsuit, Mr Varshney, 78, worked at Parsons from July 2011 to October 2022.

It says that in September this year, he was in an empty cubicle in the office, speaking to his dying brother-in-law “for approximately two minutes” when a co-worker saw him and reported him to company officials.

Before taking the call, Mr Varshney says he made sure there were no “classified materials or anything else pertaining to the MDA or Parsons’ work anywhere near him”.

But he alleges that despite there being no policy prohibiting the call, and without any investigation, the company accused him of committing “a serious security violation” and fired him in October.

“Worse, they blackballed him from future [MDA] work, effectively ending his career and life of service to MDA and the United States government,” it adds.

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