London: Many call centre employees in India take on western names while interacting with callers, but now a Leicester-based telesales company has been found guilty of race discrimination for forcing Indian-origin employees to adopt English names.
Employee Rahul Jain, 28, was made to change his name to Rob Matthews, by the Teachares 2 Parents company, which offers `effortless communication` between teachers and parents. His white colleagues could retain their original
names at work.
The company founded in 2007 is incidentally owned by Indian-origin entrepreneurs, Suresh Patel and Uresh Naik. Rahul Jain complained against the forced change of name, and now an employment tribunal has found the employer guilty of racial discrimination, the `Daily Mail` today reported.
The tribunal was told that the company "had a number of staff of Indian ethnic origin who adopted anglicised names at work".
They included Aarti (Anna), Mehul (Max), Sarbjit (Sally), Meera (Marie), Neeraj (Neil), Prakhash (Terry), Jaspal (Jay), Jayna (Jane) and Faizal (Fred).
The employers reportedly claimed that English names were easier for customers to spell in emails, and that customers had struggled with Indian names.
The tribunal ruled that the school software company`s policy was not a `proportionate` way to stop emails going astray and that it was enforced on Indian employees while white colleagues were allowed to keep their names.
On his first day, Rohit Jain picked the name Rob but the tribunal was told that he would "have preferred to maintain his birth name at work because he was proud of it, and was unhappy at having to change names".
After the tribunal hearing, Jain said: "I was the only person in the company to challenge what was happening.
They had a policy for all Asians to change their names.
There were at least 30 other people of Indian origin who did this and are still working there. What the company did is outrageous and totally racist."
The tribunal said: "If the firm was serious that the name change was optional it was incumbent to communicate that real choice. The tribunal considers that the respondent`s instruction to the claimant to adopt an anglicised name subjected him to a detriment to which it would not have subjected white colleagues and that occurred because of the claimant`s race."
Patel said his company was considering an appeal: "We have never forced or suggested to staff to change their names. If the claim is true why would we employ such a wide variety of people from different origins?"