Shreya Ukil, a 40-year-old Indian woman who was formerly a techie at the Wipro office in London, has won a landmark lawsuit in a British court against the IT major for sacking her on grounds of gender discrimination, unequal pay and victimisation.
“The Wipro leadership team, including its (then) chief executive TK Kurien, conspired to push Ukil out of her job and her role in Britain,” her counsel Slater Gordon said in a statement from London on Wednesday.
The £140,000-a-year female executive was luridly told that she looked like a “seductive dancer from Indian mythology” and “had the curves of a Russian body and big breasts”.
Ukil, from Kensington, west London, said that she had battled a “culture of sexism and misogyny” and received half the salary of her male colleagues.
She also alleged women were overlooked for promotions, subject to sexist language and considered too “emotional” by the firm based in Bangalore, India.
The court observed that the direction (to sack Ukil) had come from the very top and was followed through with considerable resolve.
“Ukil was victimised by Wipro’s leadership for speaking up about sex discrimination, unequal pay and a culture of sexism,” the statement said.
Ukil, who worked with Wipro for almost 10 years, won multi-million-dollar contracts for the firm and received numerous performance awards, started raising concerns in 2012, which went unheeded.
Ukil sued the Bengaluru-based outsourcing firm in October 2015, seeking one million pounds compensation for gender discrimination, unequal pay and harassment.
Sacking Ukil and her superior Manoj Punja, 54, the company had then said that they were relieved from service after an internal inquiry established that they were into a relationship but did not report about it to the company as a policy.
Ukil, who was the sales and market development manager for Wipro’s back office operations in London, filed the lawsuit with the central London employment tribunal, claiming she was forced into an affair by Punja, a married man, who was head of its business process outsourcing (BPO) office in London.
Wipro in a statement said it is pleased the UK Employment Tribunal has upheld the dismissal of the complainant from the services of the organization as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organization.
The company has built its business over the years by ensuring it adheres to the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and ethical corporate practices. Any transgression of these beliefs and policies will continue to be dealt with expeditiously and with the strictest action.
“We have been recognized in various fora for our progressive and proactive Inclusion & Diversity frameworks. For several years now, Wipro has had a Global Prevention of Sexual Harassment Committee (PSHC), an impartial body for investigation, with members across locations, including an external expert,” said Wipro.
Image source: Rex Features