An H-1B whistleblower tries again for justice
- 03 July, 2014 05:53
Last fall, Infosys settled claims with the U.S. government that it violated visa laws. It paid $34 million to end a case that was triggered by an employee, Jay Palmer, who had filed his own lawsuit against the company.
That appeared to be the end of this action, but the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Palmer has filed a new complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, alleging that senior executives "retaliated against him by denying him work, bonuses and promotions and terminating him."
Palmer's first court case was thrown out by a U.S. District Court judge in 2012. In his lawsuit, Palmer claimed he suffered harassment and threats for refusing to participate in an alleged scheme to use workers on business visitor, or B-1 visas, for tasks that required an H-1B work visa. In its settlement with the U.S., Infosys denied any wrongdoing.
Palmer's earlier court case was dismissed by a federal judge who seemed apologetic about it. The alleged threats against Palmer were "deeply disturbing," and "deeply troubling," wrote Judge Myron Thompson. But the judge said that Alabama's "at will" employment law, Palmer's home state, left Palmer without the law on his side. He did not appeal.
The judge was clearly troubled by this decision, and he wrote that, "an argument could be made that such threats against whistleblowers, in particular, should be illegal."
So what's happening now? Palmer may be bringing an action under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which contains protections for whistleblowers. Initiating action begins with an administrative complaint filed with the Labor Department. The complaints are confidential, but the decisions are not.
Infosys, in a statement, said: "Palmer's current Department of Labor complaint is a repetition of the issues that were tried and dismissed by a federal court in 2012. Palmer resigned in 2013 November and released the company from the claims he has alleged in the complaint. We believe this is without merit and we expect to prevail."
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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