Marwell suggested that other companies learned from what Infosys was doing.
“Look, to get this competitive edge, for Infosys to do what they did, others, I think, followed suit,” he said. “And in following suit, it became a systemic issue, not only within Infosys, but, as far as we can tell and see, and as others have brought to our attention, it seems to be a systemic problem with the IT industry.”
Marwell detailed how the investigation has compelled Infosys to change its business practices.
“Their leadership did appreciate the fact that there were substantial problems in the way that Infosys was conducting its business in our country,” Marwell said. “The settlement ultimately required Infosys not only to get on the correct path, but really to step it up and adhere to these corrections. … I believe that from the strong compliance measures that Infosys has built into their business practices, and how they have come around and will adhere to the I-9 process, and are changing their ways in obtaining the visas from our consulates abroad, I think all of those things weigh strongly. I think this settlement, as it’s put out in the public domain, stands as a deterrent to others that are engaging, or may be engaging, in similar practices.”
Shamoil Shipchandler, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, who was instrumental in negotiating the settlement on behalf of the U.S. government, said the case enabled him and his colleagues to gain a far better understanding of the visa abuse issue.
“We understand the ins and outs of this, we understand what’s right and what’s wrong,” Shipchandler said. “Given that level of understanding, I think it helps inform what we can and can’t do. I think you’ll certainly see that our efforts and scrutiny have changed, and I think what you’ll also see is companies themselves will take some actions to police themselves on these grounds.”
Shipchandler agreed with his colleagues on the “game changer” question.
“If you want to characterize ‘game changer’ as being whether it will cause other people to change their behavior, I think the answer is yes, it has to,” he said. “Infosys cannot have come up with this on its own—there have to be other people who are doing the same thing. And if they look and see that one of the largest companies in the world is being held accountable for its conduct, they must understand that they would be no different.”
And what about Palmer himself, and the actions he took in blowing the whistle on Infosys?
“Had it not been for Mr. Palmer’s courage in bringing these allegations to our attention,” Shipchandler said, “this case would not have happened.”
“Jay brought this information to us, he stood by his convictions, he was very vocal about it,” Marwell said. “He brought forth a lot of really pertinent information that took us the better part of two years to corroborate.”
According to Koranda, Palmer was a key resource throughout the investigation.
“We’ve talked to Jay quite often. He brought the initial information, and he was always available to help us understand the obscure IT language, and contract language,” Koranda said. “In that respect, Jay was instrumental. He’s the one who opened the door, he’s the one who brought us up to speed in that particular niche.”
Mendelsohn, for his part, was reflective when I spoke to him on the day the settlement agreement was announced.
“You were the first one who called it a game changer,” he said. “And it is. The effect this has had, the things that Congress is looking at, all of the attention this is getting, not just on the B-1 issue, but on the question of whether the H-1Bs coming over here are really specialized talent. The number of Americans who have lost their jobs, who have been more than willing and anxious to work in the IT industry again, but aren’t able to because jobs are taken away—the thought that some may get their jobs back, if you read a lot of the stuff on Infosys, they’ve been reporting that they’re having to hire more Americans. And that’s great.”
Mendelsohn said he and Palmer had talked about the significance of the case very early on, and that they both realized it was a lot bigger than either one of them.
“You’re talking about American jobs. You’re talking about people skirting around American laws to try to increase their profits,” he said. “The fact that I may have had some small part in correcting that is extremely rewarding.”
Infosys did not respond to a request for comment.