The Dilemma in Taking up the Legal Fight when you are terminated.

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series I, IT employee named Shyam Sundar

We looked at the need for unions in the last part.

In this part, before going to Comrade Palanichamy’s story, let us try to find the answer for what termination means to any employee. Sudden termination is definitely an extreme shock for many of the employees.

We have covered news about various ways people behave on receiving termination from employment in articles published in our union website over the last 3 years. I want to share those news once again to give a clear understanding to readers:

  • Ganta Chaitanya after receiving his termination letter jumped out of his office building and committed suicide. This news was not covered in main stream media and after we published this article, it gained mainstream attraction and Times of India published news of this incident after more than 20 days.
  • There are various other suicide news like Jeenamol Joseph from kerala, Durga Prasad from Pune   and many such incidents happening across India.
  • As a revenge for termination, Muthukumar from Chennai attacked HR officer with sickle. Joginder shot at his HR officer Binesh Sharma.
  • We already saw about David who committed bank robbery with toy gun and fake bombs to pay for his kids school fees.

The above incidents show the cruelty, termination bring to the lives of employees. The other major challenge is that the society blames the employee for the job loss as if it is the mistake of affected employee. Family members consider this as a shameful incident.

For example, I talked to my mother yesterday. She says that she has not told about my termination to any of my relatives. But, I am clear that terminated employee is a victim and we should fight openly for our legal rights and professional pride.

The other most demotivating factor for an employee who lost job through termination is people  start giving career guidance advice. They provide suggestions like upgrade individual skills to find new jobs.

I also see a few comments on my article giving suggestions to upgrade my skills to find new employment. I am thankful to all those people who provide their suggestions. But I am at the age of 45, worked 23 years in IT sector, I have charted my career path and faced all challenges so long. When upskilling was needed I did that, when fight for legal rights was needed I did that. I have grown professionally and personally and contributed towards the growth of the organization I worked for and also helped hundreds of my fellow professionals.

Now also, I am very clear about my future plans and how to prepare for them.  So providing generic advice is clearly not warranted.

If all the above behavior towards terminated employee are wrong, what is the correct thing to do. The most worrying part of termination is economic crisis. So definitely getting another new job and looking for other job openings is need of the hour to immediately come out of the crisis situation. In that respect, I agree we need to work for that, which includes skill up-gradation or other alternatives to improve economic conditions. This alternative depends on person to person.

That is the next course of action. What about the illegal act of termination by the company? Can we pass over this injustice without fight and go ahead  with plans for skill upgrading and new job?

I want to highlight various events which everyone come across in their lives:

  • Taking legal disputes for property with own blood relation and spending lakhs of rupees.
  • Taking neighbor to court for dispute related to Rs 1 lakh worth parking space
  • Fighting with person who dashed our new car by mistake

When we get angry and seek remedy for things like those in police station and court, why we are hesitant to take up legal fights against termination when they are illegal?

I mentioned in my book [IT Life – Fun or Problem] about the discussion I had with a senior labor lawyer about illegal terminations in IT sector. He mentioned that in many blue-collar jobs like transport, factories when an employee is terminated, they get angry against the management and take the fight vigorously. But IT industry, even as many are highly educated, not many people are ready to take up the fight. He mentioned that the low number of disputes recorded in labor department from IT sector is the evident of the matter.

People are afraid of taking legal action as it usually takes a lot of time. They are hesitant about the outcome of the legal dispute.

I want to share the story of Comrade Palanichamy which I mentioned earlier as an example of dispute in illegal termination.

Comrade was working in a company called Leo Fasteners in Puduchery which produces nuts and bolts. This factory was functioning without any labor union for the past 40 years. Factory management was hiring and firing employees on their own will.

To protect the rights of workers and to safeguard the jobs, workers of the company are trying organize a labor union in the factory. The management tries its best to harass the employees who lead the union movement.

In IT sector, we have a concept called bench but Comrade faces a unique concept called stool in his employment. The management put a stool in the center of factory where all workers are performing duties. Comrade has to sit in the stool for the whole day without doing any work. The factory has cameras installed and even if Comrade goes for toilet breaks, warning memos are issued which resulted in pay deduction. Comrade has faced this harassment for 18 months in his career. He was denied any work by management, has absolutely no work to do in this 18 month period. His only roles and responsibility is to just sit in the stool without doing anything.


The reader can compare with this and understand how I was made to sit in bench by management for over two and half years in the company I worked.

Later with the unity of factory workers, the union leaders successfully registered the union in the year 2008. Management created various issues to dissolve the union. It created competitive union from the management side.

In 2009, Ayutha Pooja function was celebrated in the factory. In factories of Tamilnadu, Ayudha pooja is the biggest celebrated festival. In this festival, Comrade did a dance performance with his co-workers. The management taped his dance performance and later took disciplinary action for dancing in working place and terminated 6 workers who are the core members of union.

Comrade legally challenged this illegal termination in Puduchery court. His team won the case and got reinstated with full back wages. The factory management appealed to Chennai High court and where the verdict is confirmed on 17-09-2019.

It took nearly 10 years for Comrade team to get this verdict. All the workers in the union leadership are not highly educated, but are graduates or has passed 10th or 12th standard.

They were getting a salary in the range of Rs 40,000-Rs 60,000. The High court considered all the increments to the workers for 7 years and provided reinstatement with back wages for 7 years. All the workers have received from 40 to 50 lakhs rupees as compensation depending on their position. Later Comrade resigned his job and started working full time for NDLF union.

The will to fight makes the difference here and definitely this has a lesson to employees in IT sector. The number of legal disputes was less earlier and after the start of unions, many people are taking up  legal fight against their employers.

I am sharing the legal disputes happening from the report based out of FITE union web page. ( based on 2018 details)

Ramesha case vs HCL is the only legal dispute recorded prior to 2015 in IT industry. But the above data from FITE talks about the difference. There are many legal battles happening with help of NDLF, UNITE and various other unions also. This conveys the difference bought by unions.

In addition, many employees raised dispute against their employers individually based on the awareness created.

We will talk about some of the interesting dispute details with giant companies in the coming parts.

  • Shyam Sundar
Series Navigation<< Why IT Companies Allergic to Unions?Impact of Holiday Shutdown policy on IT Employees >>

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