The Chennai Additional Labour Court has declared the termination of an employee by Cognizant Technology Solutions as unlawful and unjustified. The court ruled that the employee is eligible for reinstatement at any location in India or overseas.
R. Senthilkumar, a member of the IT Employees Wing of the NDLF Union, submitted a petition in which he claimed that the reason for his termination on February 25, 2019 was unjustified. He stated that it was based on allegations of unsatisfactory performance and refusal to take on a project, which were baseless.
Senthilkumar stated that he was willing to work on the project in Coimbatore, but due to his poor health, he was unable to accept projects in Kolkata and Pune. He argued that the termination of his employment without conducting a proper investigation is not valid.
The company responded by stating that the petitioner had declined the chance to take on the projects in Kolkata and Pune, and that he had declined the opportunities offered to him even after being placed in the Corporate Deployable Pool.
The company explained that if an employee does not get assigned to a project, they will be temporarily placed in the Corporate Deployable Pool or Associate Deployable Pool (commonly referred to as the “Bench”) until they are assigned to another project.
Cognizant claimed that the request to move to Coimbatore could not be fulfilled as the project in that location never materialized, and the employee’s refusal to accept the project offered to him was considered misconduct, leading to the termination of his employment.
However, the Labour Court pointed out that the dispute had been raised by the Union on behalf of the petitioner before the Labour Officer and the company should have sought approval from the officer before dismissing the employee. Even if it is assumed that the petitioner was laid off, the company did not follow the proper procedures as required by law, according to the court. The court instructed the company to reinstate the employee at a location that matches his skills and abilities.
The court stated that the company has the freedom to offer the employee projects in Coimbatore or Chennai based on his medical condition.
It also declared that the petitioner falls under the definition of a “workman” according to the Industrial Disputes Act. Additionally, the court ruled that the employee is eligible for 50% of his back wages from the date of his termination until the date of the ruling.