iGate sacks CEO Phaneesh Murthy over sexual misconduct; he denies charge

Bangalore, May 21 (IANS) US-based IT services company iGate Corp. Tuesday said it has sacked Chief Executive Officer Phaneesh Murthy on the charges of sexual harassment by a woman employee.

This is the second time Murthy has been charged for sexual abuse. Over a decade ago, the 49-year-old tech wizard had resigned from Indian IT bellwether Infosys on similar charges.

“The decision to terminate the employment of president and chief executive Phaneesh Murthy was made following an investigation into a relationship he had with a subordinate employee and a claim of sexual harassment,” the company said in a statement from Fremont, California.

Murthy denied the harassment charge and said he had not violated company policy.

“Recently I learnt that a lady called Araceli Roiz, who is the IR (investor relations) head of iGate, has filed charges against me claiming sexual harassment. She has not filed in a court, just sent a letter to the company, claiming sexual harassment. I do believe the charges are completely false. But it is pursuant to a relationship I had with her. Based on that, the company found it fit to believe that I had violated company policy and terminated my employment. I don’t believe I have violated company policy,” Murthuy said in a conference call.

Asked about his next step, Murthy said: “I don’t know if she is going to file in a court of law. If she does, I will obviously contest it. If she doesn’t, obviously there is nothing to contest. It depends on what she and her lawyers decide. My course of action will be reactive. The intent will be to contest it vigorously if there is a lawsuit filed. Or if the company deems it fit that they should settle it using insurance, that is the company’s prerogative.”

Murthy mentioned that anybody can have a relationship but following the rules in iGate, the company has to be informed about it. “It is a small note in an employee handbook somewhere. If you look at your handbook, it might be there. That’s all it is. Basically, you have to inform your superior.”

The company claimed that Murthy did not disclose his relationship. But he said: “I don’t know why they claimed so. I think it is related to a question of timing more than anything else. I informed them many weeks ago.”

Asked whether there is any similarity between the charges levelled against him in 2002 and now, Murthy commented: “Not really. I still don’t know the charges because the letter went directly to the company. The letter has not come to me. Because of that, I don’t know what exactly the charges are.”

In 2002, Murthy had to leave Infosys following a sexual harassment case, which was settled out of court.

Asked whether it was an incident of him being victimised in a boardroom battle, Murthy said: “Without question, it is a case of extortion. I don’t want to comment on any boardroom battle or anything like that. Ever since the first case became public, everybody feels that they have an absolutely easy way to collect money on whatever pretext.”

He mentioned that it is the same lawyer behind both the people (Reka Maximovitch, the lady who filed the lawsuit in 2002, and now Araceli Roiz).

iGate has replaced Murthy with interim CEO Gerhard Watzinger with mmediate effect.

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