Infosys whistleblower taking on company again

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

The whistleblower who helped trigger a federal investigation into visa practices by the global outsourcing tech firm Infosys is taking on his former company again in court, and this time he's naming top executives in his lawsuit.

Former Infosys Ltd. employee Jay Palmer filed a retaliation complaint with the Department of Labor in March, the first step to suing the company. He filed his lawsuit late last week in New Jersey federal court, where former Infosys executive Jeffrey Friedel lives. Most other top company officials are in India, where firm is headquartered.

Infosys denies the charges of retaliation and says the new case is without legal merit. "Palmer resigned in 2013 November and released the company from the charges he has alleged in the complaint," it said in a statement.

U.S. tech workers have pushed back in recent years against Infosys and other similar firms' business models of outsourcing other companies' high tech jobs overseas. They have also increasingly criticized the firms' reliance on generally cheaper, temporary visa workers to handle high tech jobs in the United States, arguing qualified U.S. workers are being unfairly displaced by the government's immigration policy.

In this complaint, Palmer argues he was pressured to resign, and the company continues to retaliate against him by refusing to rehire him. Under the federal whistleblower law, Palmer is allowed to sue not just the company but also the people who run it.

"I am not going away in this matter, the United States has laws to protect whistleblowers," Palmer said Monday. "Once you help the government, as I did, a person has rights."

Last year, Infosys agreed to a $34 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department over allegations it misused short-term business visas to bring in temporary tech workers. Prosecutors had accused Infosys of illegally hiring the workers out to corporate clients and then paying them in local currencies rather than dollars. Infosys admitted no wrongdoing. The settlement left open the door for further investigation by other federal entities such as the IRS and the Security and Exchange Commission.

Much of the federal government's visa case developed from an earlier lawsuit filed by Palmer, who lives in Alabama. That case named only the company.

A federal judge dismissed that case in 2012 since Alabama law doesn't protect against the types of retaliation Palmer claimed. The new case is brought under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower protections. Infosys says the case is a repetition of the 2012 one.