Jay Palmer, the Infosys Technologies employee and whistleblower who has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging visa and tax fraud, last week received a second death threat, this time with a reference to his family included in the message. According to Palmer's attorney, Infosys has taken no action to protect Palmer or his family.
As I reported in my March 15 post, "H-1B Visa Fraud Case Against Infosys May Be a Game Changer," Palmer, whose given name is Jack, had received a death threat in February, several days after his lawsuit became public:
[W]hen Palmer went to work at the client site on Feb. 28, the Monday after the lawsuit was filed, he logged onto his computer and found a death threat on the desktop. "Jack, just leave. You're not wanted here," the message read. "Hope your journey brings you death, stupid American."
Palmer received the second threat via email on April 21, and it was even more sinister. The email, a copy of which I have in my possession, reads as follows (spelling as it appears in the email):
if you make cause for us to sent back to india we will destroy you and yuor family
Palmer brought the email to the attention of the Infosys Whistleblower Team, which on Monday informed Palmer's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, that it turned the email over to Mitch Allen. Allen is the attorney hired by Infosys as an independent counsel to investigate Palmer's harassment and retaliation claims.
I spoke with Mendelsohn earlier today, and he noted that the timing of the new threat was interesting, coming just a week after Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, in which he cited the Infosys visa fraud case:
I think there is a legitimate concern [among people within Infosys] that Grassley and Congress and Clinton and the rest of them could take some steps that could really hurt Infosys and their visa program. If they find them guilty of visa fraud, there's all kinds of stuff they can do, and I think the word has gotten around Infosys. Everybody knows that Grassley has been hot and heavy against a lot of the stuff Infosys is doing. From what I'm seeing [from a legal perspective] they can basically shut down their visa program. They can go in and find every one of them, and send them back. It just depends how aggressive they want to get with them. So I do think that the typical Indian worker who's over here, whether he's on an H-1 or B-1 visa, is probably concerned that if this goes down, they're going to be deported back home.
Mendelsohn said he had made Grassley's office aware of the new email threat, and that the office had responded. He declined to disclose any information about the response.
I asked Mendelsohn if there was any way to get some kind of injunction or court order to compel Infosys to provide protection for Palmer and his family. He said the court system typically doesn't work that proactively:
We have requested Infosys to assist in providing protection, but I haven't gotten any response from them, and don't expect to. Unfortunately, even though there are grounds for injunctions from time to time, most of the time our legal system is reactive, as opposed to proactive. I think the solution for us is for Jay to take appropriate steps to protect himself and his family, and any additional costs he might incur I will include in the complaint for damages.
I asked him how Palmer is holding up under all of the intense pressure that he and his family are feeling, and Mendelsohn said it's been tough:
He has some good days, and some very concerned days. I can't imagine waking up and getting an email like the one he just got. They also have him on the bench now-he's being paid, but they don't have a job for him. The contract with [the previous client] was ended, and there's other work available for him, they just won't put him to work. So a guy like Jay, who's used to 60-, 70-, 80-hour weeks, and dedicating himself to his company and his clients, and now he's not working, that makes it doubly hard on him. It's been tough on the guy, and he's had a lot of courage in seeing this through. He's almost a poster child for why people don't become whistleblowers. The bottom line is they've done nothing to protect this guy since this whole thing started a year ago.
Mendelsohn said Infosys hasn't explained why it has Palmer sitting on the bench, but he has his own theory:
Jay has received information that there are other places that need his skills. It's one of two things: Either they don't want to put him someplace because they know if he discovers illegal conduct there, he'll report it; or they're just trying to put added pressure on him. That's all I can think. No matter what has happened all this time, they can't say one bad thing about the quality of his work. He has done an excellent job, he has helped secure more contracts for Infosys, the clients he's worked for have loved him, and he's done everything that's been asked of him. Irrespective of anything about him reporting criminal matters or suing them, they can't say anything about his work. So it just doesn't make sense to me why they wouldn't have him working somewhere.