An Indian American engineer has spoken out against a former employer who fired him for speaking in Hindi to a relative over a video call in an office setting. Anil Varshney, 78, was employed with a missile defence contractor’s office in Alabama for a long time before being dismissed, he said in a federal lawsuit against the company.
Varshney filed a civil rights lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama against Parsons Corporation and U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin, whose department oversees the U.S. Missile Defence Agency, as reported by AL.com. He started work at the federal agency in 2002. The lawsuit says Varshney who was employed at Parsons’ Huntsville office from July 2011 to October 2022, in tandem with the defence agency job, had accepted a video call from his brother-in-law in an empty cubicle and spoke to him for about two minutes. He was fired by the company saying a security violation was committed by using the Facetime application on a classified worksite.
Varshney claims no policy prohibited him from answering the said call. His dismissal resulted in being debarred from future work with the Missile Defence Agency, the lawsuit states. “This case arises out of Defendants’ intentional acts to end Varshney’s highly distinguished engineering career because he is a 78-year-old Indian American,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants abruptly terminated Varshney after one of his white colleagues overheard him speaking Hindi to his dying brother-in-law in India and falsely reported him for a violation of ‘security regulations.’”