EXL Service Holdings, Inc. Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Case Type: Gender Discrimination

Company: EXL Service Holdings, Inc.

Sanford Heisler Sharp today filed suit against EXL Service Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXLS), one of the world’s largest operations management and data analytics companies, and its senior officers, on behalf of its former General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Nancy Saltzman.

The complaint alleges that when Ms. Saltzman complained to EXL Board Member Clyde Ostler about the discrimination that she was personally experiencing, the company fired her. According to the complaint, as early as her first interviews, Ms. Saltzman’s gender made her a target. The complaint discusses the sexist comments made by EXL’s President and Chief Operating Officer Pavan Bagai who asked another executive who had interviewed Ms. Saltzman whether she was “attractive.” When the other executive described her attire, Mr. Bagai commented that he appreciated her “short skirt.”

The situation did not improve after Ms. Saltzman was hired. According to the lawsuit, EXL’s overwhelmingly male senior leadership marginalized, micromanaged, and disrespected Ms. Saltzman, who was the first and only woman ever on EXL’s Executive Committee. This conduct allegedly included denying her travel requests, withholding essential information, and sharply curtailing her authority to make legal decisions for the company. This discrimination came to a head, Ms. Saltzman alleges, when EXL CEO Rohit Kapoor personally directed Ms. Saltzman to serve cake to junior male employees during a company anniversary celebration.

“Ms. Saltzman worked hard for twenty years to earn a seat at the table on EXL’s executive committee,” said David Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “When she got there, however, she apparently found herself relegated to serving cake.”

The Complaint alleges that EXL’s board nurtured the company’s discriminatory environment by empowering CEO Kapoor and Executive Vice President Miglani to retaliate against Ms. Saltzman. Specifically, Ms. Saltzman alleges that she sought assistance from Board Audit Committee Chair Clyde Ostler in addressing the discrimination. According to the complaint, rather than confront EXL’s male domination and discriminatory practices, Mr. Ostler and Board Chairman Garen Staglin empowered CEO Kapoor and Mr. Miglani to fire Ms. Saltzman. They did so, Ms. Saltzman alleges, by telling Ms. Saltzman that her complaints of discrimination constituted her resignation.

“When senior executives complain of discrimination, corporations must punish the bad actors,” said Russell Kornblith, New York Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “When Ms. Saltzman complained of gender discrimination, she expected swift remedial action. Instead, she was punished and pushed out.”

“The lack of gender diversity reflected in EXL’s senior leadership is appalling,” said Nicole Wiitala, Associate at Sanford Heisler Sharp. “EXL should take gender diversity seriously and make a genuine effort to hire, promote, and retain women in senior leadership roles.”

Ms. Saltzman is represented by a Sanford Heisler Sharp team led by Chairman David Sanford, New York Managing Partner  Russell Kornblith, and Associate Nicole Wiitala. Ms. Saltzman’s lawsuit seeks more than $20 million in damages. The Complaint asserts claims of gender discrimination and retaliation culminating in her unlawful discharge under the New York City Human Rights Law.

The Defendant, EXL Service Holdings, Inc., is a NASDAQ listed operations management and data analytics services company boasting an annual revenue of $883 million. According to the company’s website, EXL is a global presence in United States, Europe, Asia (primarily India and Philippines), Latin America, Australia, and South Africa and has more than 29,000 professionals worldwide. Its website also currently reflects not a single woman on its leadership team: