It's been almost exactly one year since this blog became the first U.S. media outlet to report the story of Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer's lawsuit against the company, following the harassment and retaliation he suffered after blowing the whistle on alleged visa and tax fraud. One year later, some reflection is in order.
I certainly didn't uncover the story - in fact, I was oblivious to it. I was pointed to it by a reader who had seen a report about it in the Indian press. I first mentioned it in this space on March 13, 2011, in a post headlined, appropriately enough, "Yes, We in the U.S. Media Are Lousy at Covering H-1B Visa Abuse." On March 15, following my first of what would be many conversations with Kenny Mendelsohn, Palmer's attorney, I filed a post headlined, "H-1B Visa Fraud Case Against Infosys May Be a Game Changer." As anyone who has read this blog with any regularity at all knows, I have since become more convinced of the game-changing nature of this case with each passing day.
I had been following the case for nine or 10 months when a friend of mine asked me what's the one thing about this case that bothers me the most. I wasn't able to give him a meaningful answer, because I've seen so much documented evidence of so much blatant, willful deception on Infosys' part, and so much arrogant disrespect for U.S. laws and the U.S. justice system, that it was impossible to identify one particular thing that, of everything I had become aware of, I found the most troubling. After some reflection, however, that changed.
It all crystallized during a recent discussion I had with Ben Dattner, a professor of psychology at New York University and author of the book, "The Blame Game: How the Hidden Rules of Credit and Blame Determine Our Success or Failure." Dattner contends that credit and blame almost always lie at the heart of any workplace dysfunction. It was in that context that I conveyed my own observation that we tend to admire people who have the courage and willingness to accept blame and hold themselves accountable, while we tend to be put off by those who blame others in trying to conceal their own faults and mistakes.