Imagine returning to your office to see a note taped to your chair which reads:
Just leave, you are not wanted here, hope your journey brings you death.
Imagine coming into work and turning on your computer. The screen lights up with an open Word document, which says:
Burn in your hell and death to you and the family. Infosys rules the world.
That has been the life of Jay Palmer and today an Alabama judge ruled the above threats are not unreasonable in the workplace. Literally the Judge ruled that death threats are not out of bounds in Alabama employment law. The judge claims the threats were not so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.. So, under employment law is murder now perfectly legal? What does it take here to get justice for U.S. workers?
ComputerWorld has been covering the case and sums up what happened.
In his lawsuit, Palmer claimed he was harassed at work, sidelined and even received death threats for refusing to participate in an alleged Infosys scheme to use workers on business visitor, or B-1 visas, for tasks that required an H-1B work visa.
In today's ruling, Thompson said that some of claims brought by Palmer against Infosys aren't covered by a state law.
"Without question, the alleged electronic and telephonic threats are deeply troubling," wrote Thompson. "Indeed, an argument could be made that such threats against whistleblowers, in particular, should be illegal."
But Thompson wrote that "the issue before the court, however, is not whether Alabama should make these alleged wrongs actionable, but whether they are, in fact, illegal under state law. This court cannot rewrite state law."
Consequently, "this court must conclude that, under current Alabama law, Palmer has no right to recover from Infosys," wrote Thompson.
Palmer's attorney, Kenneth Mendelsohn, said they are "disappointed that the judge threw it out," but added that he and Palmer "were also honored that he acknowledged the wrongful conduct of Infosys and that this is just simply a matter that Alabama law does not allow a claim when the person is still working for the company."
It's well documented Indian body shops use H-1B foreign guest worker Visas and do not hire Americans. Study after study has shown this to be the case. Yet when a lone U.S. tech worker gets some guts to stand up and try to do something, a judge throws out his case. Unbelievable, the Alabama judge claims Infosys didn't break any laws and it seems, in Alabama at least, companies can get away with almost anything.
Fairly incredible lack of justice, on a technicality to boot. Alabama state law sure is convenient when it comes to employee civil suits and that was the technicality, Alabama state law somehow supersedes Federal in employment law cases.
The judge noted that Alabama is an “at-will” employment state, meaning that “absent a contract providing otherwise, an employee may be demoted, denied a promotion or otherwise adversely treated for any reason, good or bad, or even for no reason at all.” He did not dispute that Mr. Palmer had received at least five “worrisome” threats after he first reported his concerns through internal whistle-blower channels.
But Judge Thompson found that the impact on Mr. Palmer of the threats, and of being denied bonuses and work assignments, was not “so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it,” as Alabama law requires.
Palmer was the whistleblower on the illegal use of short stay , B-1 Visas to bring over foreigners to work for Infosys in the United States. The B-1 Visa is supposed to be for professional conferences, fast consultation and training. It is not legal to work on these Visas in the United States.
One company is being accused of bringing those lower-paid workers to the U.S. illegally and that may be costing Americans jobs.
The allegations are the subject of a federal probe and CBS News has been investigating this story for months. The allegations have been made against a giant Indian information technology firm called Infosys. The charges are coming from inside the company, from an employee who has never spoken publicly before.
Jay Palmer is a principal consultant at the company called Infosys. He is also the whistleblower whose charges sparked the federal investigation. Palmer says Infosys, the global high-tech giant, engaged in a systematic practice of visa fraud, a charge the company denies.
There is another suit by an Infosys employee, this one in California. California is also an at-will state.
Another whistle-blower lawsuit against Infosys was filed this month in California by Satya Dev Tripuraneni, who claimed he quit his job after harassment following his reports of visa abuse.
There also is a Federal criminal investigation going on against Infosys for illegally using guest worker Visas. IT Business Edge quoted anonymous sources on Infosys brazen abuse of the U.S. immigration system:
The former Infosys manager from India who detailed systematic discrimination against American college recruits has provided a compelling behind-the-scenes account of the institutionalized nature of the B-1 visa fraud and deceptive practices documented by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer.
The former manager, who is speaking to me on condition of anonymity, was employed by Infosys from 2000 to 2010, and worked in the United States on an H-1B visa for six years (see yesterday's post, "Former Infosys Manager from India Cites Discrimination Against Americans"). He corroborated information that Palmer and his attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, have turned over to federal authorities conducting the criminal investigation of Infosys, including information about the manner in which Infosys briefs B-1 visa holders on how to deceive U.S. immigration officials:
Back in Bangalore they have an elaborate immigration department-obviously they have a lot of people traveling, the majority of whom travel to the United States. I would say the number of B-1 visas that they use is probably a substantial number, but not a large percentage compared to H-1s and L-1s. What they do for people who are traveling on B-1 visas, in Bangalore and other Infosys offices in India, they would have a briefing session where they would basically tell you very clearly that a B-1 visa is only intended for sales professionals to attend meetings and things like that, and you can't actually be working. So what you need to do when you reach the United States is you need to lie to the official at the airport about the purpose of your visit. You can't tell them that you're there to work or to do any kind of programming or anything like that. They even advise you not to take any kind of programming books in your bags, just in case you're searched. You can't tell them you're there for a sales meeting when your bag is packed with six books on Java.
The former manager said there are plenty of Infosys employees in India who are willing to come to the United States on a B-1 visa to work, even though they're fully aware it's illegal to do so. The lure, he said, is simple. It's all about the money:
Most people back in India would do absolutely anything to come to the United States, just for the money. People at that level have two options. Option A is you are given $145 a day. For the first $100 you would have to produce receipts, but you wouldn't have to produce receipts for the remaining $45. Option B is $90 a day, no questions asked, no receipts required. And during that time, they continue to draw whatever salary they were getting in India. If a junior analyst or programmer gets the opportunity to be in the United States for three months, and takes Option B, that's $90 a day for 90 days, or $8,100. That's an interesting amount of money for these guys. Infosys doesn't have to force people in India to come to the United States. They have more people than they need who would come to the United States, who would do that-that's a good amount of money.
This administration's track record on immigration law enforcement is fairly non-existent, including issues like the above which are clearly discrimination against U.S. workers and arbitrage. Still the most outrageous result of Jay Palmer's courageous effort is the implication that death threats to current and former employees are perfectly acceptable.