In my post on Tuesday, "H-1B Visa Fraud Case Against Infosys May Be a Game Changer," I wrote about Jay Palmer, a U.S. employee of Infosys Technologies, who has brought a lawsuit against the giant Indian outsourcing services provider. The suit alleges that Infosys has been engaging in visa and tax fraud, and that Palmer has been subjected to harassment and reprisals because he refused to go along with the fraud and instead reported it to the Infosys Whistleblower Team. The suit raises a lot of tough questions that Infosys will have to answer in the coming months. And it raises an equally tough one for other U.S. employees of Infosys: Why is Palmer the only one we know about who has had the guts to report the alleged abuses?
Palmer (whose given name is "Jack" but who goes by "Jay") has allegedly had to deal with outrageous abuse himself, including a threatening message left on his computer: "Jack, just leave. Hope your journey brings you death, stupid American." One can only try to imagine the toll all of this is taking on him and his family.
I asked an Infosys spokesman whether any of the company's U.S. employees other than Palmer have raised visa fraud concerns with Infosys' management, and whether any Infosys employees on B-1 visas are working at client sites in the United States, as alleged by Palmer. His response: "Due to ongoing litigation we are not commenting further on any visa related questions."
Infosys' U.S. operation is Fremont, Calif.-based Infosys Consulting Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indian parent company, Infosys Technologies. In addition to Fremont, it has offices in Atlanta; Bellevue, Wash.; Bentonville, Ark.; Bridgewater, N.J.; Charlotte; Detroit; Hartford; Houston; Lake Forest, Calif.; Lisle, Ill.; New York; Phoenix; Plano, Texas; Quincy, Mass.; and Reston, Va. The spokesman told me there are about 12,000 Infosys employees in the United States.
At this point I don't know whether any of those employees has witnessed the abuses alleged by Palmer, but it seems highly implausible that he could be the only one. Maybe some of them have had the courage to step forward and report the abuses to Infosys' management. If you work for Infosys and have any information on visa fraud, please let me know by e-mailing me at email@example.com. Your identity will be kept strictly confidential.
What we do know is that Palmer is the only one who has had the guts to try to hold Infosys accountable for its alleged fraud, and to open the matter up for public scrutiny, by going through the burdensome process of filing a lawsuit. And I have a hunch that not only Infosys, but the other big outsourcing companies as well, are starting to sweat bullets. I happened to notice that someone from Cognizant Technology Solutions scoped out my profile on LinkedIn on Wednesday. That's the same Cognizant that in 2009 was forced by the Department of Labor to pay 67 H-1B visa holders a total of over $500,000 in back wages, because it tried to beat the system by underpaying the workers. You can bet that the likes of Cognizant, Wipro and Tata are scrambling to come up with damage control plans in case one of their employees summons the courage to blow the whistle.
As Infosys scrambles to file its response to Palmer's suit, I share a concern that was expressed by a reader:
It would take a very large scandal (like maybe Infosys getting caught red-handed) to get the feds to step up enforcement. And even a scandal is no guarantee. That could very likely result in another "GAO Study" to get to the bottom of the issue. After the study is complete, well that's yesterday's news. We've got plenty of data and now is the time for action.
It's essential that Palmer not be in this alone. The feds need to be all over this case. In my recent post, "Contacting State, Federal Reps Just Got a Whole Lot Easier," I wrote about a Web tool you can use to write to your government representatives-it's extremely convenient and it's free. Use it to tell Washington to investigate not only this case, but the activities of the other big Indian outsourcers. Don't rant. Don't attack. Be respectful. If you come across as an informed, concerned, decent citizen, hopefully your voice will be heard.