A former Infosys human resources employee revealed in recently filed court documents that a key Infosys HR manager, who was responsible for working directly with Jay Palmer in the aftermath of his whistleblower complaint, admitted that Palmer was being truthful about B-1 visa misuse and other illegal activity, but cut off communication with him at the direction of the company.
The former HR employee, Stephanie Teasdale, was hired by Infosys in September 2010 to develop and manage an affirmative action and equal employment opportunity program for the company. In a sworn affidavit dated May 29, prepared as part of the deposition process in Palmer's civil lawsuit against Infosys, Teasdale provided a jaw-dropping account of what was really happening inside the Infosys HR operation in Plano, Texas, after Palmer filed his whistleblower complaint. Perhaps most incriminating was the information that Teasdale revealed about Lynne Grant, the employee relations and work force compliance manager who specializes in employment law, and who was Palmer's main point of contact in the HR operation because she was the HR manager who was responsible for investigating the harassment and retaliation against Palmer. Teasdale testified that Grant told her that she knew Palmer's complaints about illegal activity were accurate. Here's an excerpt from the affidavit:
Although I was not directly involved in the investigation on the whistleblower case of Jay Palmer, Lynne Grant openly discussed details of this and other employee relations cases on several occasions. On more than one occasion, Lynne stated that Infosys messed up with how they dealt with Jay Palmer. She admitted that Jay Palmer was the victim of death threats and retaliation. She also knew that he was telling the truth and the B visas were being used illegally. Lynne Grant would have conversations with [Infosys in-house lawyer] Jeff Friedel at a minimum bi-weekly, but most months, weekly. They did speak of the Whistleblower case often. In most situations they would ask me to leave the room, but several times they would speak of Jay in general terms in front of me. Every time admitting that he was correct, the company did misuse B visas, but questioned how they were going to deal with the events going on. Lynne ultimately was told to discontinue taking all his calls because he was "not stable." Lynne knew that Jay was having emotional problems with dealing with the retaliations. So Lynne began dodging his phone calls, even when he was retaliated against by not receiving his full bonus amount. She told me that she knew he was correct, but was told to not respond to him. Lynne then began ignoring Jay continuously and letting his calls go to voice mail or not answering his calls.
You may be wondering what Grant had to say when Kenny Mendelsohn, Palmer's attorney, deposed her. How could she possibly answer his questions and get through the deposition without causing the whole Infosys house of cards to collapse? Incredibly, she chose to play the "I don't recall" card.
I have read Grant's 127-page deposition, which was conducted by Mendelsohn on April 19, and I was absolutely astonished by this woman's brazenness in repeatedly claiming an inability to remember. At one point during the deposition, for example, Mendelsohn showed Grant two emails that Grant said she didn't remember, but didn't dispute receiving. Here is the subsequent exchange:
MENDELSOHN: Okay. Would you agree with me from reviewing those two e-mails, this is additional information that both Mr. Palmer and [the second whistleblower] Ms. [Linda] Manning were providing to you and Mr. Friedel concerning their-their concerns about whether Infosys was violating immigration and income tax laws?
GRANT: It appears that they are referencing their concerns about visa/immigration issues.
MENDELSOHN: Okay. And did you do anything to investigate to determine whether they were-whether Infosys was violating the immigration and tax laws?
GRANT: I don't recall.
I'm not making that up. That really came from Grant's deposition. She doesn't remember whether she did anything to determine whether Infosys was violating immigration and tax laws.
I spoke with Mendelsohn on Monday, and I asked him what he concluded after deposing Grant. He clearly shared my astonishment:
Jay's whistleblower complaint, combined with the harassment he was undergoing, has to be one of the most significant things that has happened to her in her employment with Infosys. And to not remember anything about it is just silly to me. I think we counted it up, and there were over 120 simple questions about what she did in Jay Palmer's case that she said, "I do not remember." I think she just made a decision, a choice in her life, that she was going to turn the other cheek and support the company. I don't want to call the lady a liar outright, but she can't remember any of these things? It's incredible.
It seems to me that U.S. District Court Judge Myron Thompson, the federal judge who's hearing the case and who will read Grant's deposition, will find it incredible, too. So I asked Mendelsohn what he expects Judge Thompson's reaction will be. His response:
It's hard for me to speak for Judge Thompson, but generally in cases like this, judges see it for what it is and leave it up to a jury to decide how to deal with it. I certainly think that a jury, as well as the judge, would conclude that she's not being forthcoming with her answers.
I'd say that's a pretty safe bet. And that's what makes this case so disastrous for Infosys. Since Infosys doesn't have the truth of the matter on its side, the best anyone toeing the company line is ever going to be able to muster when the difficult questions are asked is a feeble, implausible, "I don't recall." Or they could finally summon the courage to do the right thing and just tell the truth. Everybody messes up. Every one of us. There's no shame in that. The shame is in lying about it and trying to weasel out of taking responsibility for messing up. And that cowardly choice is much, much worse when it callously disregards the impact it has on innocent people.