Sex charge against Phaneesh Murthy may be settled out of court

If the three can't thrash out an out of court settlement, the sexual harassment case is likely to result in long litigation in the full glare of the media.

Uttara Choudhury December 20, 2014 21:05:15 IST
Sex charge against Phaneesh Murthy may be settled out of court

New York: This case of sexual abuse in the workplace is not going to be swept under the carpet. Araceli Roiz, a senior employee of outsourcing company iGate Corp is taking legal action against iGate and sexual predator Phaneesh Murthy, who has just been fired as iGate's president and chief executive. With litigation at hand the parties are also exploring the possibility of an out of court settlement, said Roiz's lawyer Randall Aiman-Smith.

If the three can't thrash out an out of court settlement, the sexual harassment case is likely to result in long litigation in the full glare of the media.

"We have explored the possibility of a resolution without litigation with iGate lawyers and Murthy's lawyer. The vast majority of cases in the US settle out of court instead of going to trial," Roiz's lawyer Aiman-Smith told Firstpost.

Sex charge against Phaneesh Murthy may be settled out of court

Murthy, during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, called Roiz's claims of sexual harassment "false and fabricated." Reuters

"If the case were to go to court I wouldn't expect it to go to trial before nine to 13 months. My client is going to prevail any which way - I believe that absolutely. Everyone is benefited if the case is resolved sooner rather than later. It is important to understand that for a large company like iGate it is a distraction to have to fight a legal case," added Aiman-Smith.

Murthy, during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, called Roiz's claims of sexual harassment "false and fabricated."

Murthy's comments have rankled Roiz who is now pregnant with his child.

"The nature of the employment relationship is that the supervisor always has power over the employee. Here, Phaneesh Murthy was the Chief Executive Office of iGate and had complete control over whether Araceli Roiz got her paycheck at the end of the month so that she could pay her rent, expenses and remain employed. In that situation, any relationship is coercive and no consent can be freely given. That is why companies, including iGate, have polices forbidding relationships between supervisors and subordinates," said Aiman-Smith.

Roiz's lawyers say that when iGate's head of investor relations tried to extricate herself from the relationship, Murthy threatened her employment and pressured her to continue the relationship. Ultimately, Roiz became pregnant with Murthy's child and when he discovered this, Murthy told her to have an abortion. When she refused, he told her to leave the company.

Now if Phaneesh Murthy is to be believed, he is being stalked by mercenary women for the last 10 years at least. But the facts tell a different story: of a powerful man that harassed women who worked for him.

In May 2000, Murthy joined the Infosys board. A year later, Murthy's executive secretary Reka Maximovitch filed a lawsuit against him and the company in a California court alleging harassment by Murthy and wrongful termination. Infosys and its insurers paid $3 million to settle this case out of court with Maximovitch in May 2003.

In October 2003, another former employee of Infosys Jennifer Griffith filed a lawsuit against Murthy and the company claiming that he sexually harassed her. Infosys settled the suit out of court in 2004 through an $800,000 payment, of which Murthy and Infosys's insurers paid half each.

Many thought Murthy would be finished after the Infosys fiasco. But soon, he got his second chance. iGate, a company listed on Nasdaq that employs 28,000 people mainly in India, asked him to come in as CEO and revive it. Murthy has launched a turnaround for iGate through the smart acquisition of Patni Computers and a bold pricing model.

"The man is brilliant but we see a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of women," said a person in the IT industry who has had business dealings with Murthy. "He has a reputation for predatory behavior so the iGate board should have made it clear they had their eyes on him."

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