Bangalore, May 23 (IANS) iGate’s American employee Araceli Roiz, 31, who accused the company’s former chief executive Phaneesh Murthy of sexual harassment, Thursday claimed that she was pregnant with his child.
Three days after the US-based leading IT software firm fired Murthy (49) for his unlawful relationship with Roiz, the company’s investor relations manager, a law firm (Aiman-Smith & Marcy), representing her in the sex lawsuit, said it would initiate legal action against the former CEO and the company.
“As a result of Murthy’s influence over Roiz, she continued the relationship with him and ultimately, Roiz became pregnant with Murthy’s child. When he discovered this, Murthy pressured Roiz to have an abortion. When she refused, he told her to leave the company, quietly, to protect his position as CEO,” the law firm said in a statement from Oakland in California.
The law firm, however, clarified that Roiz, who joined the company in May 2010, remains employed though on medical leave presently.
As Roiz’s supervisor, iGate chief financial officer (CFO) Sujit Sircar, was based in India, she was reporting to Murthy on daily basis. In his role as her supervisor, Murthy insinuated into her personal life on the pretext of business necessity.
“In this way, Murthy was able to induce Roiz into behaviour and action that she would have found unthinkable at the beginning of her employment. The only reason Murthy was able to engage in these abusive and harassing actions is because he was her employer,” the statement said.
As Roiz was dependent on her job with the company for her basic living expenses, the law firm asserted that Murthy conditioned her employment and career advancement opportunities on her entering into a relationship with him, which she did reluctantly.
“When Roiz tried to extricate herself from the relationship, Murthy reduced her responsibilities, threatened her employment and pressured her to continue the relationship,” the statement added.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, and prohibits harassment on the basis of sex, which includes conditioning any form of employment benefit on a sexual relationship.
“Those are the facts as we expect them to be proved in court. Had Murthy not convened a press conference in which he attempted to make himself look better by lying and slandering Roiz, she would not have endured the embarrassment and humiliation of making these facts public; however, she has been forced to do so to counter Murthy’s false statements,” the statement asserted.
Referring to the timing of Murthy’s confession to the company’s board that he was in relationship with Roiz, the law firm claimed that when Roiz refused to have an abortion, Murthy attempted to get her to leave the company and keep their relationship a secret.
“It was not until after Roiz refused to do so and informed him that she would be seeking legal representation and her lawyers contacted Murthy’s counsel that he reluctantly informed the board of the relationship, just before the board would have learned on its own from other sources,” the statement clarified.
Terming Murthy’s comments that his relationship lasted only a few months a blatant lie, the law firm said Murthy began pursuing her soon after she joined the company in 2010.
On Murthy’s charge that Roiz and her attorneys were engaged in extortion, the law firm said the charge was not only defamatory, but also a despicable attempt to blame the victim, who only wanted to continue her career and support her child.
“Murthy has, astonishingly, attempted to gain sympathy based on his own prior bad actions. Roiz selected our law firm, which fights for victims of employment discrimination and its prior success in getting compensation for some of Murthy’s previous victims, including Reka Maximovitch, a former employee of IT bellwether Infosys Ltd, who accused Murthy of sexual abuse in 2002, when he was on its board as director and global sales head, based in the US,” the statement added.
Infosys went for a $3-million out-of-court settlement with Maximovitch, a Bulgarian-American national, to withdraw the sex lawsuit against Murthy and the company and sacked Murthy later for violating the company’s ethical standards and corporate governance.