Kenny Mendelsohn, the attorney for Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer, has released a series of internal emails and other documents that provide a stunning play-by-play account of how a B-1 visa holder from India was brought to the United States under false pretenses, and was put to work at a client site in direct violation of U.S visa and tax laws. And they show how relentless Palmer was in trying to put an end to the charade.
Mendelsohn said the documents relating to this particular individual, whom we'll call Mr. X, are representative of the many others he has that relate to other B-1 visa holders and Infosys' institutionalized practice of illegally assigning them to work at client sites in the United States.
The case of Mr. X began on Aug. 6, 2010, when Kiranraj Karkera, an Infosys engagement manager based in Chicago, wrote to Ravi Kumar S, Infosys' vice president of enterprise solutions in Bangalore. The letter served as an invitation for Mr. X to come for two weeks of meetings at Infosys' Chicago office; it was the document that had to be presented to the U.S. consulate to secure a B-1 visa for Mr. X. Here's an excerpt:
We have business meetings and workshops related to an SFDC Implementation project here in Chicago, Illinois. In this connection, we would like to invite [Mr. X] to visit our [Infosys] office at 2300 Cabot Dr., Lisle, IL 60532, starting August 30, 2010. During this visit, he will be involved in interacting with client IT and business stakeholders, and in making a presentation on quality assurance related to sales process automation. He is anticipated to be here for 2 weeks.
That's exactly the sort of thing people here on B-1 visas are supposed to be doing, and the length of time they're supposed to be doing it, as Infosys well knows. Unfortunately, that's not what Mr. X was doing here, and that's not how long he stayed. The documents that Mendelsohn released to me show that Infosys put Mr. X to work at a client site -- Heidrick & Struggles International (H&S), an executive search firm based in Chicago-to perform software quality assurance and testing work. And they show that Infosys billed H&S for the work performed by Mr. X. That's a flagrant violation of U.S. law, and Infosys knows it.
It also knows that when someone on a B-1 visa is here for much longer than six weeks, that raises a red flag that U.S. immigration authorities are likely to spot. So it assigned Mr. X to H&S for 45 days.
On Oct. 1, Jennifer Alvarez, a quality assurance analyst at H&S, sent an email to Sarah Cryder, IT manager in the Project Management Office at H&S, to try to get an extension for Mr. X for a few more days:
[Mr. X]'s 45 day onsite contract is creeping upon us. He is scheduled to return to India October 18th. Since CRP1 got pushed to Oct 20-21st I believe it would be in our best interest to have [Mr. X] on site for CRP1. Would it be possible to request an extension for him to Friday October 22nd?
So Oct. 22 became the last milestone date for Mr. X, and the date that Infosys would bill H&S for his services in the amount of $8,480. That, remember, is illegal-you can't bill a client for services performed by a person here on a B-1 visa.
On Oct. 19, Manish Sawla, an Infosys offshore project manager, emailed Palmer to request that he get H&S's approval for the Oct. 22 milestone billing. Palmer thereupon emailed Shazia Mian, director of application systems at H&S, requesting approval for the $8,480 billing for Mr. X's services. Mian gave the approval.
Later the same day Palmer forwarded this email string to Infosys corporate counsel Jeffrey Friedel, with a cc to Lynne Grant, Infosys' employee relations manager. He pleaded with them to do something:
This is so illegal and wrong for me to have to bill the customer for this person. What am I suppose[d] to do? Guidance please. Now I am being asked to get a [Change Request] extension signed for [Mr. X] who is on a B-1?
The next day, Palmer sent an email to Friedel in which he detailed the work that Mr. X had been doing at H&S:
[Mr. X] is tasked to come on site as the Quality Assurance/Testing Lead at Heidrick and Struggles located at 233 South Wacker Chicago, Il. His project task consists of reviewing designs and then to physically create and write test scripts. After he creates the said test scripts (code) he will type them into the system and execute them in order to find errors in the system. At this time he will identified [sic] "bugs" and then correct the code and retest. This process is repeated over many weeks.
So Infosys had been sitting on all of this information for over nine months when, on July 26, Infosys Chief Marketing Officer Paul Gottsegen issued a statement in response to the damning testimony Palmer had submitted to a Senate subcommittee hearing on immigration reform earlier that day-testimony that recounted the activity that was exemplified by the case of Mr. X. I included the full text of Gottsegen's statement in my post, "Internal Infosys Document Eyes Wiggle Room' Around Visa Rules." Here's an excerpt:
The commentary submitted today by Jay Palmer (via Senator Charles Grassley) to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, is full of inaccuracies, exaggerations and falsehoods. Mr. Palmer is obviously intent on spreading his falsehoods about Infosys and our business practices as broadly as possible in order to advance his objective of getting as big of a payout as he can from the Company.
As I've previously written, Mendelsohn didn't take kindly to Infosys calling Palmer a liar. Not surprisingly, Palmer didn't, either. Palmer conveyed his response to Gottsegen's accusation to Mendelsohn, who shared the thrust of it with me:
Jay is saddened by Mr. Gottsegen' s hurtful remarks -- this after Jay made every effort to embrace Infosys while abiding by the letter of the Whistleblower policy. It was Infosys HR managers who suggested to him that he retain an attorney, because Infosys management in India would not let them do the right thing. Remember, Jay waited over eight months before he hired me. As stated repeatedly in emails to Infosys management that we will release, Jay tried to be a part of the solution and not add to the problem. There are many, many emails he sent to management with little or no response. What hurts Jay the most is that Infosys employees are dedicated to their customers, and he feels strongly that the customers should continue to recognize the value they're getting. Jay is not against people coming to America in order to better themselves and their families-he is an advocate of that dream. But he is against breaking the law to obtain profits. He looks forward to an apology from Mr. Gottsegen and Infosys, however unlikely that may be. Regardless, we will ask him, Infosys management, and-unfortunately, from Jay's perspective-Infosys' customers, some tough questions during deposition.
Mendelsohn expressed his own response to Gottsegen's statement more succinctly:
I am reviewing all of our documents and am going to continue to release evidence that proves Infosys violated our laws until someone from Infosys publicly apologizes to Jay for Gottsegen calling him a liar.
Note to Infosys: I think he means it.