In December last year, reports emerged of Verizon using extreme methods to coerce its employees to resign. Employees were called for meetings with HR managers who were accompanied by goons, henchmen, and even psychiatrists, creating an atmosphere of fear, leaving the employees with no choice but to tender their resignation. Faced with these dire circumstances, 52 employees of Verizon filed a petition in the Hyderabad High Court. The petition was admitted on Wednesday.
During these mass retrenchments, employees were told to resign or face the humiliation of being terminated. Over 1,000 people lost their jobs in the Hyderabad and Chennai offices of Verizon in one week. “Faced with the pressure of termination, psychological stress and the physical intimidation of bouncers, the strategy is clear – to break the morale of an employee,” said a press release issued by Forum of IT Professionals (ForIT).
One of the employees, Rajesh (name changed), had 12 years of experience. His phone was forcibly taken from him during his meeting with the HR team to ensure he doesn't make any recordings. He was surrounded by bouncers and a doctor. The HR team told him to resign, saying a termination would scar his reputation. The doctor counselled Rajesh to stay calm and take a wise decision.
Another employee was pregnant at the time of termination, violating maternity laws. She is amongst the people who have moved the High Court.
Now, the High Court has taken cognisance of these illegal retrenchments and allowed the employees to issue notice to the IT giant. A Satyaprasad, senior counsel to the petitioners, informed the judge that the petitioners had approached the Joint Commissioner of Labour earlier with their complaints. However, no action was taken by the officer. Satyaprasad has also sought for a direction to the government to withdraw all benefits being extended to Verizon under the IT Policy in face of these illegal retrenchments.
IT professionals in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have organised themselves under ForIT. They issued a press release following the court proceedings on Wednesday expressing their happiness over the united response from IT professionals, as well as the High Court taking note of the recent developments.
Indian IT sector has been under distress lately with massive lay-offs in face of automation and revenue losses. Other IT companies, such as TechMahindra, Cognizant, etc, have also been indulging in forced retrenchments of employees for cost cuts. These cases have till now been ignored by the Labour Department.