Sandeep Gupta resigned, now a lawsuit follows.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: A Houston-based food delivery company is being sued by a former employee for allegedly engaging in racist behavior, calling names and often resorting to physical abuse solely because the employee in question was of Indian origin.
Sandeep Gupta has filed a federal case against Schwan’s – a multi-billion dollar, privately-held firm based in Minneapolis – which employed Gupta in 2007. Initially hired as a general manager of the company’s Austin branch, he eventually moved his way up to being a general manager in Houston. And yet for all his professional success, Gupta despised his time at the company because his co-workers repeatedly harassed him for his ethnic heritage.
The abuse included name-calling – “rug head,” “sand n***er,” and “turban head” were all frequently bandied at Gupta – and his colleagues even photo-shopped Gupta’s image into a photograph of a SWAT team, as if they were coming to arrest him for being a terrorist. They even chased him around the office at least once, striking him with a yardstick and hitting him repeatedly in the groin area. Three of the people who were beating him were even managers.
Despite reporting the incidents to his immediate supervisor at least one, Gupta still had to contend with the behavior. Gupta and his lawyers – Tej Paranjpe and Raj Mahadass, both also Indian American – say that Gupta was unable to leave the firm because he was in a precarious financial situation. He and his wife were adopting a child and needed financial stability, and the Schwan job paid well enough to support Gupta and his growing family.
Schwan has vociferously denied the allegations, saying that they “intend to vigorously defend the matter.” They contend that Gupta was treated fairly and never reported any incidents of employee misconduct during his time with the company, which ended last year when he resigned.
“[W]e take seriously our responsibility to provide a work environment free from harassment or retaliation of any kind. Our policy is to recruit, hire, assign and promote employees on the basis of their qualifications and without regard to age, race, color, creed, gender or any other legally protected status. We also strongly encourage employees to report inappropriate behavior. Mr. Gupta did not report any alleged inappropriate behavior prior to resigning,” says a statement from the company.
A video of the report, containing testimonials from Gupta and his attorneys, can be viewed below (courtesy of Fox News Houston affiliate, Fox 26):
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