According to the attorney representing Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, a lawyer hired by Infosys to help defend the company against Palmer's civil case and the U.S. government's subsequent criminal investigation misrepresented himself to Palmer and two other whistleblowers, leading them to believe he was an independent counsel investigating the whistleblower complaints.
The attorney hired by Infosys, Stephen Jonas, is a partner in the Litigation/Controversy department at WilmerHale. WilmerHale was in the news last week. It dodged a bullet when the U.S. Senate approved patent legislation that impacted a separate case that enabled WilmerHale to avoid having to pay a $214 million malpractice settlement with a client in the pharmaceutical industry.
Jonas was hired as Infosys' "company counsel" in March. Palmer's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, said Jonas represented himself to Mendelsohn and Palmer as an independent counsel whose mission was to independently investigate Palmer's whistleblower complaint. Mendelsohn said he confirmed that Jonas made the same representation to the two other Infosys whistleblowers.
I can now report that the second whistleblower, whom I called "Whistler" in my Aug. 3 post "Second Infosys Whistleblower Documented 'Illegal' Activity, Pleaded for Action," is Linda Manning, who worked in Infosys' human resources department in Plano, Texas, and who has since left the company. The identity of the third whistleblower, whom I wrote about in my Aug. 25 post Third Infosys Whistleblower Flags Illegal Workers at Client Site is still being protected.
Mendelsohn said he found it odd that the attorney who was representing himself as an independent counsel, and who was ostensibly investigating Palmer's whistleblower complaint, didn't show up on the scene until March. Palmer filed his whistleblower complaint last October. His lawsuit was filed in February.
Mendelsohn also said that in March Jonas repeatedly asked Palmer to surrender his laptop, which held the evidence of his allegations against Infosys. In a March 24 email to Mendelsohn, Jonas said Palmer's failure to turn over the laptop would put him in violation of Infosys' policy governing acceptable use of IT equipment, which meant that he would be "subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination." Mendelsohn dismissed that threat, because the special agent in charge of the U.S. government's criminal investigation of Infosys had instructed Palmer not to surrender the laptop to Infosys. The government wanted it as evidence.
Mendelsohn's response to Jonas was unflinching:
Mr. Palmer is protected under several federal statutes. Any attempts by Infosys to discipline or terminate Mr. Palmer for conduct related to the laptop will be in violation of those statutes and I will take appropriate legal action if necessary.
The laptop is now in the possession of government investigators.