More harrowing tales of Byju’s abusive work environment emerge

Byju’s employees have long alleged that the company’s success is built on an abusive work environment and unethical sales practices

NEW DELHI | Updated: 22 July, 2023 5:38 pm IST
CEO Byju Raveendran says the company has been penalised more than it should have been, but vows to continues with the aggressive business approach.

NEW DELHI: Numerous critical media reports, exposés, penalties, a Central agency’s summons to its CEO, and resultant woes have failed to deter Byju’s from harassing its employees and customers alike.

As the ed-tech behemoth continues its layoff streak, current and former employees have once again come forward to voice their dissent against the company’s exploitative and abusive work environment.

In a recent event captured on a viral video, a young female employee named Payal confronts a senior Byju’s official over issues related to the work culture, threats of layoffs, and pending incentives and dues.

The video shows her attempting to approach the office of Soham Sanidhya, a senior Byju’s official, but two men block her way, claiming he is not available and asking her to come back later, while a fellow colleague records the altercation.

“We are getting laid off. When else will we get to speak to him? We come from another vertical and were told that we work, we can survive, but we don’t get any support,” she complains. Payal further expresses frustration over not receiving incentives for a year, and her dismay at receiving only Rs 2000 in the full and final settlement.

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As the altercation escalates, Sanidhya, who describes himself as vice president (according to his now-deleted LinkedIn account), steps out and invites Payal inside for a chat.

On LinkedIn, a former business development associate, Nitish Kumar, writes an emotional post detailing his efforts to grow the business and his sudden termination. Kumar recounts how he was called by an HR person into her cabin and informed, “Exit kar lo.. Today is your last working day. There is no need for you to come to the office tomorrow. Is there any rule for dismissal in Byju’s or not?”

“I was giving my blood and sweat for the last 9 months. I am the sole breadwinner of my family, with an ailing father, an unemployed mother, and two younger brothers,” Kumar writes.

Byju’s employees have long alleged that the company’s success is built on an abusive work environment and unethical sales practices, including targeting and pressuring potential customers from disadvantaged backgrounds to buy their courses.

Former employees, in several media reports, have described the presence of “pushy managers” and a high-pressure sales culture that emphasizes aggressive targets. The company faces hundreds of complaints on online forums from both consumers and employees.

Many have claimed that Byju’s sales representatives posed tough questions to their children, projected a bleak future if they did not use Byju’s services, and failed to deliver on promises like face-to-face coaching and regular updates on progress.

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Earlier this year, a civil services exam aspirant filed a complaint against Byju’s, accusing the company and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who endorsed the brand, of fraudulent behavior and unfair trade practices. The complainant alleged not receiving the coaching facility for which she paid around ₹1.8 lakh.

Additionally, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) raised concerns about Byju’s purchasing phone databases from third parties and threatening to ruin the future of children if they didn’t enroll in their courses. The NCPCR summoned Byju’s CEO, Byju Raveendran, seeking details of all courses provided, their structure, and the fee details.

In response to NCPCR’s summons, Byju’s has stated it will stop selling tuition to families who may struggle to afford it, but the company denies the allegations of buying databases.

Byju’s, founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran, is valued at an estimated $22 billion and is backed by prominent investors, including Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Tiger Global, and General Atlantic. The company’s CEO, Byju Raveendran, in a recent interview, expressed his firm’s commitment to aggressive growth despite facing penalties beyond what they should have received.

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