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Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian' 409

Posted by timothy
from the cue-the-h1bigots dept.
jfruh writes "A former Oracle sales manager is suing the database company for what he called racially discriminatory salary-setting practices. Ian Spandow wanted to transfer a high-performing salesman from Oracle's India office to California. When he requested a salary of $60,000 a year or more for the employee, equivalent to what his white American counterparts received, he was told instead to offer $50,000, which was 'good money for an Indian.' When Spandow protested, he was himself summarily fired."
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Lawsuit: Oracle Called $50K 'Good Money For an Indian'

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  • Shocking (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:50AM (#45950115)

    I'm shocked. Oracle has always seemed like one the more reputable companies, willing to compete fairly, not obsessed with gouging its customers, and nary an evil bone in their corporate body. I can't imagine them hiring or promoting people that would act like this.

    • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CdBee (742846) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:55AM (#45950153)
      If proven true in court, this justifies a boycott of Oracle products by all us techies until Oracle produce an open salary audit proving no racial differentials between staff at the same locations. The allegation if true is disgraceful
      • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:05AM (#45950235)

        Umm... I don't think Boycott is what you think it is.
        You really don't need to be justified to boycott a product/company. You can do it whenever you really want.

        Besides no matter how bad Oracle gets, if your Boss says use this Oracle product or your fired, then you will probably be a little less outraged.

        Now this if proven true in court, could be justifiable for Oracle workers to unionize and strike.

      • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Informative)

        by ausekilis (1513635) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:16AM (#45950363)

        If proven true in court, this justifies a boycott of Oracle products.

        It wasn't the public shaming and mudslinging between Oracle and Google, or the dozens of lawsuits [google.com] Oracle has brought on with various companies, like those providing Solaris support "illegally" [networkworld.com], or even the controversies [wikipedia.org] surrounding the company and it's business tactics. No, one racial comment and termination in an at-will [ca.gov] state is what's going to cause the boycott.

      • Re: Shocking (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FishTankX (1539069)

        I think this isn't about race more nationality.

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by fatboy (6851)

          I think this isn't about race more nationality.

          It's a good thing for Oracle that the Civil Rights Act 1964 allows you to discriminate based on National Origin. Oh, wait! Doh!

        • by arth1 (260657)

          I think this isn't about race more nationality.

          Nationalism isn't any better than racism.

      • If proven true in court, this justifies a boycott of Oracle products by all us techies until Oracle produce an open salary audit proving no racial differentials between staff at the same locations. The allegation if true is disgraceful

        Hmmmm....Interesting concept. An open salary audit. Let me see. So what you are saying is that all employees for a given job description are equal. Is that correct?

        Well, I guess that you would have to make sure that there are measureable metrics to ensure that employee A is doing the same and equal job of employees D, B, F, E, T, C.

        Look, what was said, or practiced, is wrong on all fronts. As an employer and a one time employee, it sucks, but it happens all the time. I know for a fact that recruiters look t

      • Why does it have to be a racial difference? Why can't it just be the difference between hiring a guy from India, and hiring a guy locally? Employment negotiations are full of these kinds of discrepancies. One guy negotiates more than another guy. One guy knows the market better than another guy. There are all kinds of people that do the same exact work, yet get paid differently. The "Indian" may have referred to the guy coming from India, rather than locally. They know Indian demand to transfer to the US is

    • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Funny)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:56AM (#45950165)

      Next thing you know, they're going to be bundling adware with Java and suing open source projects.

      • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:05AM (#45950249)

        I gotta say, it was hilarious (in retrospect) how the open source community got ultra-paranoid about Mono and C#, and it turned out that it was Java that turned into the lawsuit fodder instead.

        Do any of the people who were beating up on de Icaza feel bad about that now, or are they incapable of shame?

        • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

          by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:14AM (#45950345)

          I suspect if Google had chosen Mono instead of Java, Microsoft would have sued the fuck out of Google exactly like Oracle did. Hell, Microsoft is shaking down Android OEMs over FAT patents.

          So that mistrust was not wrong, Oracle and Microsoft both suck and their product offerings reflect that.

          • Not to mention that using Java leveraged all the professional Java developers already out there.

            The C# pool is substantially shallower.

          • Re:Shocking (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:19AM (#45951101)

            Mono works on Android and, in my experience, the dev times are much faster than using the built-in APIs. Combine with Monogame, which took the place of XNA and has Microsoft's full support, and you have a really viable (though not perfect) cross-platform gaming solution. If you want to give it a try, I recommend Xamarin studio.

            http://xamarin.com/android

            Xamarin has been endorsed by Microsoft as a legal and legitimate cross-platform c# vendor for a while now. Microsoft may still be evil, but whoever is running their C# ecosystem is yet untainted. *fingers crossed*

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Oh come now, corporate behavior and the behavior of a few individuals are miles apart.

      But in this instance it was an honest mistake, the Indian reference was to an old treaty with the Powhattan tribe, where that kind of wampum was damn good beads.

    • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:21AM (#45950421) Journal

      I'm shocked. Oracle has always seemed like one the more reputable companies, willing to compete fairly, not obsessed with gouging its customers, and nary an evil bone in their corporate body. I can't imagine them hiring or promoting people that would act like this.

      Honestly, I am shocked; but for totally different reasons:

      Oracle is evil, sure; but they are a major corporation, with a legal department, HR, 'Compliance' people, and so on. Try to stiff an employee and fire him if he complains? Fuck yeah, Larry can't keep himself in yachts if the peons get all the crumbs they ask for.

      Outright admit that you are engaging in discrimination based on racial/ethnic/national origin, when there are so many other ways to massage something as potentially ambiguous as salary level, 'fit with the company', and so on? Was somebody drunk on the job? Asking to get fired and sued? Got away with it so often that they got arrogant?

      That is what strikes me as shocking (though, rather convenient for the cause of justice). There are endless legal, or at least 100% unprovable, ways of fucking with somebody. What kind of utter moron would be dumb enough to tell the guy the truth to his face?

      • by Kjella (173770)

        You're surrised that one HR person in a huge company is horribly incompetent and stupid? Even if he's let go they'll probably do no more that confirm his dates of employment and he'll soon work for another company. Most companies just want to get rid of the lemon quietly without causing a lawsuit.

      • Re:Shocking (Score:5, Informative)

        by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:09AM (#45950973) Journal
        They didn't tell the guy to his face. They told the hiring manager, the hiring manager refused, so they canned the hiring manager who clearly was going to be a problem going forward.

        I'm not sure why people are acting surprised. Undercutting the local market is the entire reason US tech companies import people from India just like it's the entire reason they export functions to India. You didn't actually believe there is any sort of shortage of talented labor? Only in the sense that local labor wants more money than companies like Oracle would care to be paying therefore they want a cheaper pool of labor.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is an Oracle office in India for a reason. They're cheap. Defeats the purpose if you bring them all over here on US wages, wouldn't it? Might as well hire Americans, god forbid!

    • by gordo3000 (785698) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:06AM (#45950259)

      it's funny because you are a solid 10 years out of date. Top grads in India now make comparable amounts to their US equivalents. Hell, just a couple months ago Oracle was offering grands 200k+ for Mumbai based roles. The days of indians taking jobs based solely are salary are quickly coming to a close. Now it's just ability and ease of hiring.

      • by sandytaru (1158959) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:11AM (#45950309) Journal
        Oh, you can still hire a subcontractor in India for $30K/year. It's just that you'll get what you pay for. As you said, the top jobs there make the equivalent of their counterparts in the US and other places easily. But those jobs only go for the folks who have the critical thinking skills necessary to do programming right. The lead architect at my office was born in Mumbai, and there's a reason he makes more than any of us - the guy's a genius.
        • by gordo3000 (785698)

          of course, but you can hire a low level moron in the US for the same amount. It's not that hard to find people who will go for it. But the fact 100k+ starting salaries are becoming regular offers from the IT companies in India for highly qualified new grads means the market is flattening very fast. I actually don't know any new IT grands that pull down 100k their first year but I'm sure they are out there.

      • by GNious (953874)

        Ease of hiring? Took our company 15 months to hire 6 phone-support guys, that we were contractually required to have in place loooong ago.

        • by gordo3000 (785698)

          well, that's also why wages are converging to US levels very fast in those industries. I know friends of mine in finance there would tell me they could easily negotiate 25% salary increases YoY back in 2006.

      • by bradgoodman (964302) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:25AM (#45950483) Homepage
        Yes and no. There are many well-educated, foreign countries in which US companies (several I have worked for) try to hire-in, in an attempt to lower labor costs. India is one, there's also Russia, Singapore, etc. It's all about supply and demand. US companies flock to these countries and start hiring. This increases demand and decreases supply. After a while, the salary offset isn't as large, and there becomes less incentive to do so. This is starting to happen in many countries, and it's a good thing for workers everywhere. (Foreign employees get paid more, less desire to ship US jobs overeases = Good for US workers).
    • by Dishwasha (125561)

      ...wanted to transfer a high-performing salesman from Oracle's India office to California

      Reading comprehension fail

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @09:58AM (#45950179)

    Oracle didn't say anything. Some dude that works there said it. The company should be charged for any discrimination their employees say, but don't make it like it was a statement from their PR or anything like it. There are people that saying stupid things like that anywhere, at any given time.

  • Comedy Gold (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:05AM (#45950243)
    An Oracle executive, sales manager and human resources manager walk into a court room...
    • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:51AM (#45950787)

      An Oracle executive, sales manager and human resources manager walk into a court room...

      Oh! I know this one...

      ...suddenly a crazed gunman on trail in the next room escapes and takes them all hostage. He threatens to kill the hostages one by one over the next 10 minutes unless his demands are met.

      What kind of sandwich do you go make yourself?

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:07AM (#45950275)
    There's an implication in Spandow's revelation, if it happened as it is being reported here.

    If the Indian's didn't work for less, would it disincentivize their hiring?

    Or is there also an expectation they will tolerate longer hours in a less hospitable work environment?

  • The cruelest part (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishwasha (125561) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:13AM (#45950331)

    Was that they were only willing to offer him $50,000, not even $60,000 in CALIFORNIA. Isn't $60,000 a year under the poverty line there?

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @10:58AM (#45950853)

      you joke, but for that income in the bay area, you'd have to have room mates, eat cheap food every day and maybe not even own a car. and you'll have no savings each month, it will all go to rent, food, insurance.

      $60k/yr might be ok in some areas of the country, but you will never have anything in your savings account at this kind of rate and with bay area housing prices. if you define poor as being a paycheck away from being homeless, this could count as being poor, then.

      • by tjb (226873)

        Presumably, that's a base salary. Most sales positions have low-ish base salaries and sky-is-the-limit commission polciies. If you're really, really good at sales, you can make a boatload; if you can't hit your quota, though, it can really suck.

  • by v1x (528604)
    According to http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-nator.cfm [eeoc.gov] it seems like prohibition from workplace discrimination based on national origin extends to hiring. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome of a lawsuit like this one would be a fat settlement for this indivisual, after which, it will be business as usual at Oracle and at other companies with similar hiring practices.
  • That guy from India presumably needed a visa, such as an H1B. In order to get this, a company needs to demonstrate to the Dept of Labor that the person in question can command an above-average salary. How do they do this if they undercut people in comparable jobs?
  • Is this what corporate America is, these days? Someone disagrees in an e-mail with the head office and gets dismissed for that? Oracle would be unethical, but also downright stupid if they fired everyone who didn't share the views of their superiors. I can't believe that...
  • Mongo DB (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frankie70 (803801) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @11:26AM (#45951183)

    The guy now works at Mongo DB

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ian-spandow/1/739/557 [linkedin.com]

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @02:45PM (#45954459)

    Oracle just got caught.

    Anybody familiar with the corporate-tech H1B propaganda knows that Oracle's view is entirely normal.

    Tech companies want the public to think that H1B are extremely highly skilled, and highly paid.

    Anybody who actually works for the tech giants knows that H1Bs are mainly a cost cutting measure.

    The US GAO even proved this in 2009.

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