Earlier this morning, millions of people who had never heard of Jay Palmer, or of Infosys, for that matter, watched a riveting segment on "CBS This Morning" that no doubt left many of them wondering. They're wondering how Palmer was able to summon the courage to blow the whistle on the rampant visa fraud he discovered in the course of doing his job at Infosys, while others chose to remain silent. They're wondering how this company they're only now learning about could have had so much contempt for America's laws that it would willfully and flagrantly violate them in the course of generating ever-increasing profits from companies here. And they're wondering what's going to happen now.
For readers of this blog, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller's report finally attached a face and a voice to Palmer, this whistleblower they've been reading about for the past year whose story they know well, but only through second- or third-person accounts. "Jay Palmer" suddenly became a real person, a regular guy in a position any one of us might have found ourselves in, not just a label on a case that prompted a multi-agency federal criminal investigation of one of the largest and most influential IT services companies in the world.
For Infosys, Miller's piece presented yet another opportunity for it to do the right thing, an opportunity it blindly squandered, as it had so many others. It declined to make anyone available to speak with Miller on camera, and in one of its most shortsighted blunders to date - and there have been a lot of them - Infosys issued this statement to Miller in response to his request for a comment that he could include in his report:
As a global leader in consulting and technology, Infosys takes very seriously our obligations and responsibilities to comply with the immigration laws and visa requirements in the 30 countries of the world where we do business for our clients. This includes work with our clients in the United States.
Mr. Palmer's allegations may make for an interesting story. But the case that is now before the court isn't about a story. It's about facts, and the facts are clear and compelling:
- There is not, nor was there ever a policy to use the B-1 visa program to circumvent the H-1B program;
- Infosys did not have a practice of sending unskilled employees to the United States on B-1 visas to do the work expected of skilled workers on H-1B visas;
- Mr. Palmer's complaints were handled in complete accordance with our published procedures for handling whistleblower complaints and in compliance with the law;
- And we have not retaliated against Mr. Palmer in any way.
Any allegation or assertion that there is or was a corporate practice of evading the law in conjunction with the B-1 visa program is simply not accurate, and we will vigorously defend the company against any false allegation to that effect.
Miller asked Palmer for his response to that statement. Here's what he said:
This is the United States of America. If they want their day in court, let's let them have their day in court, and we can lay the compelling facts out and let a judge and a jury decide.
Then Miller asked him this question:
When this is all over, and it all comes out, where is Jay Palmer? Are you going to be able to work in this business again? Do you look like a hero, or are you the goat?
I don't know. You know, it's not about me. This story is about displaced American workers, and about companies out for greed.
That tells you everything you need to know about who Palmer is.
Thanks in large part to the cooperation of Palmer and his attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, the feds are sitting on a mountain of incriminating evidence that outlines in explicit detail Infosys's corporate practice of evading the law in conjunction with the B-1 visa program. That Infosys would choose to taunt the feds on such a huge national stage bespeaks the cluelessness with which the company has dealt with this fiasco since the day 18 months and one day ago when Palmer blew the whistle. I can promise you this isn't going down well at all with the feds.
Many readers, jaded by the silence of the mainstream media, scoffed at my assurance that this day would come, just as they scoffed at the notion that Infosys will ever have to truly pay for its actions, and that a situation that has caused so many American families to suffer so much injustice will ever change. Now that this day has come, perhaps the idea that Palmer's case really is the "game changer" I said it was all those months ago will no longer seem quite so implausible.