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Technology firm Intel is currently facing a lawsuit filed by a Korean American software engineer who is claiming that the company’s Indian managers are discriminating against employees who are not of Indian descent.
Identified as Hoseong Ryu, the 45-year-old employee said that he first noticed the alleged bias during his interview when he was still an applicant.
Ryu is reportedly seeking unspecified damages for racial discrimination and discrimination on the basis of national origin, for emotional distress and damage to his reputation, The Mercury News reports.
In his lawsuit, Ryu narrated that he was interviewed by a three-man panel when he applied for a software engineering position at Intel back in 2014. According to Ryu, an Indian interviewer asked him a peculiar question: “I see you are from Korea. I know a Korean man named Sung Won Bin. Do you happen to know him?”
When the interview concluded, the man allegedly told a fellow interviewer that Intel shouldn’t hire Ryu because he was “Korean, married, and had a child,” adding that “it would be easier to hire a younger, unmarried Indian man.”
Despite the alleged comments, Ryu was still hired as Intel’s system integration team, where he eventually discovered that “the demographics of the worksite and its management have been heavily skewed toward employees from India or people of Indian or south-Asian descent.”
Ryu noted that one Indian manager “openly favored the hiring and promotion only of employees from India, stating that ‘Indians work hard’ and ‘Indians are harder workers.’” That particular manager even encouraged a supervisor to hire only Indian employees.
While Intel has declined to comment on the pending litigation, it noted how its inclusive culture is important to the company.
“We believe diverse teams with different perspectives, experiences, and ideas are more creative and innovative, resulting in a collaborative and supportive environment,” company spokeswoman Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale was quoted as saying.
The lawsuit also cited an incident in 2018, when Ryu was acting as a de facto manager of the team while the company was looking to appoint a new chief of the system integration team. However, the position was given to a system debugger originally from India who had “no management experience and had significantly less experience with system integration than Ryu.”
Ryu further alleged that the Indian man’s promotion over him was a form of retaliation for a complaint he previously filed to Human Resources.
Ryu’s complaint also accused the management of favoring South Asians in granting vacations: “Most employees who are not Indian or South Asian receive only two to three weeks of vacation or leave per year. But employees who are originally from India or of Indian descent typically receive additional leave time and sometimes receive as much as five or six weeks of leave per year.”