An H-1B whistleblower tries again for justice

Jay Palmer files complaint with Labor Department, likely under Sarbanes-Oxley

Last fall, Infosys reached a settlement with the U.S. government over allegations that it had 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 the action, but The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Palmer has filed a new complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor in which he alleges that senior Infosys 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 that 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 H-1B work visas. In its settlement with the government, Infosys denied any wrongdoing.

Palmer's earlier court case was dismissed by a federal judge who seemed apologetic about the dismissal. The alleged threats against Palmer were "deeply disturbing" and "deeply troubling," wrote Judge Myron Thompson. But the judge said that the "at will" employment law in Alabama, Palmer's home state, left the plaintiff without the law on his side. Palmer did not appeal.

The judge was clearly troubled by that 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."

This article, "An H-1B Whistleblower Tries Again for Justice," was originally published on Computerworld.com.

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 email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

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