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Whistleblower In Limbo After Reporting H-1B Visa Fraud At Infosys 276

McGruber writes "The New York Times has the sad story of Jack B. Palmer, an employee of Infosys, the giant Indian outsourcing firm. 17 months ago, Mr. Palmer made a quiet internal complaint that Infosys was committing visa fraud by bringing 'in Indian workers on short-term visitor visas, known as B-1, instead of longer-term temporary visas, known as H-1B, which are more costly and time-consuming to obtain.' Since making his complaint, Mr. Palmer 'has been harassed by superiors and co-workers, sidelined with no work assignment, shut out of the company's computers, denied bonuses and hounded by death threats.'"
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Whistleblower In Limbo After Reporting H-1B Visa Fraud At Infosys

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  • by rastilin ( 752802 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:04PM (#39678599)

    Was he really naive enough to think that these were the actions of some rogue managers and that the company would be thrilled to have him put it all in writing? Did he expect them to send him a Thank You letter, beginning with "Thank you for putting this illegal activity, that we've been quietly doing for years under the table, into writing. We really appreciate that you've opened us up now to criminal liability and that your complaint will cost us a fortune. We're so glad that you did this instead of looking the other way and keeping your fucking mouth shut like everyone else in the company. Here's your bonus!"

    For one thing, no one's going to say "Yeah I expected they were totally going to shaft me for it because I always knew they were evil.".

    Personally I am surprised, there was still time for the company to go "my bad", pay a fine and just walk away. Once people start putting pressure on the whistleblower like they're in the mob or even something really stupid like death threats, the company has essentially made it impossible for themselves to back down. They're virtually guaranteeing that management will be criminally prosecuted and will probably go to jail for what will turn out to be a fairly small amount of money.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:06PM (#39678627) Homepage Journal

    How are they getting around it? Are these workers completely undocumented? Are they lying at the border? Did they not fill out I-9s? Because if they filled out I-9s, and those were looked at by USCIS, this sort of thing would be picked up pretty goddamn quick.

    Given the amount that I've personally spent on legal immigration, this pisses me off a little bit. I'm not exactly surprised, but it seems to be yet another case where breaking the law as an individual would have adverse consequences (e.g. in this case, where one would be banned from the United States between three years and indefinitely, depending on the overstay) while breaking the same law as a corporation is completely overlooked.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:13PM (#39678743)

    Speaking of "whistleblowing" there's a law making the rounds through Congress that would make it illegal. If you are a government or corporate employee, you can only blow your whistle to internal "mediators". And if you get fired, you're not allowed to tell anyone why you were fired.

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised given Congresses' other recent actions (mandatory inurance purchase, the Protect IP Act, U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. A.C.T., NDAA passage).

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:22PM (#39678845)

    A good portion of the world is Monotheistic, the majors religions that are not Monotheistic are not praying to Roman Gods.
    Jesus +1 Romans -1

    The reason why the Jewish people were really hoping for a Messiah to come was because their land has been taken over by Rome, and pressured to change religions to the Roman one. They didn't care much for it. Jesus came and according to Christianity and some sects of Judaism he was the Messiah however he didn't do it the way they thought so the Jewish people dishearten and basically had him killed.

    However most of Jesus teaching had a sharp tongue against the Priests who basically worked for the Romans and was allowed to be corrupted by them.

  • Re:Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:22PM (#39678847)

    "Classified" material that never should have been classified, but instead was trying to cover-up military blunders. Example: The whereabouts of the journalists who were killed. The military said "We don't know" to the poor family members, but they knew all along it was a friendly fire incident.

    Other examples: Covering-up the shootings of kids and torture of POWs. I'm glad Manning and other wikileaks persons are not "just following orders" while military/war crimes are being committed. We the People deserve to know what is actually happening.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:28PM (#39678921)

    >>>Given the amount that I've personally spent on legal immigration, this pisses me off a little bit.

    Most legal immigrants feel exactly the same. Oftentimes the legal immigrants are the strongest supporters of blocking the illegals from coming in.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:31PM (#39678969) Homepage Journal

    The guy is still drawing a check, but doesn't have to work, and he's upset?

    It all comes down to whether you have a good work-life balance or you live to work and work to live. A lot of retirees have the same reaction to retirement. Going from having a list of things that you have to get done to not having one can be stressful for some people.

    For me, it would be awesome because I have so many tens of thousands of hours of backlog in my personal projects that I may never catch up as it is.... But if you don't have a wide range of outside creative interests, I could see how it could be very uncomfortable. It would be like starting your life over from scratch—a cold reboot of sorts.

  • Not only costs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by legont ( 2570191 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:40PM (#39679085)
    There is much bigger reason why companies don't want to obtain H1-B. While on work visa, it's relatively easy to find some other employer willing to take you on H1-B or even on adjustment of status to Green Card. On the other hand, somebody working on B1 can't look for another job at all - he can't claim experience because it is illegal. Makes nice slaves. It used to be popular in 90s, but in little shops.
  • Perhaps he thought they were above-board and honest in their proceedings.

    It doesn't change the fact that this guy is sitting at home being paid $90,000 a year (yes, I read the article) and whining about how he is going nuts because he doesn't have any real work to do.

    He deserves it - over the last 7 years his job put plenty of his fellow citizens in the same position, minus the pay-check. I'd have the same level of sympathy for a crack dealer who complains about someone selling them fake drugs. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Rien.

    He knew the details of the visas - that they were for people who were not supposed to be working in the country - and let's face it, he placed them anyway. So now he's going around with a gun strapped to his ankle (again, I read the story). He's in fear of his life and ready to blow people away (he drew down on a door-to-door salesman) because someone taped a print-out death threat to his office chair, and he's gotten a couple of crank phone calls?

    He must have led a really, *really* sheltered life. Even high school would have been too much.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @04:52PM (#39679271) Journal

    The title says "H1-B visa fraud". But the fraud did not actually involve H1-B visas at all; it involved brining people in under B-1 ("business") visas - which do not permit working in U.S., but are for attending meetings, conferences and such - and then having them do actual work while in U.S. It is certainly a visa fraud, but its only relation to H1-B is that those people who were working have to be issued H1-B (or L-1, or one of several other types of visas permitting it) to work.

    Is that just shoddy writing, or a a cheap attempt to stir up the usual flamewar over H1-Bs "stealing our jobs"?

  • It's even worse - he has a duty to mitigate any long-term loss to his own income. So he can't just say, in the damages portion of his ongoing lawsuit, that when they finally get around to stopping his paycheck that he's going to lose future revenue for $x number of years down the line.

    He absolutely should be using the $1,800 a week they're paying him to prepare for a new career, or to set himself up to work independently, rather than complaining that he can't quit because ... wait for it ... they're paying him good money to do nothing but sit around his home.

    Instead, he's abusing anti-depression meds and traquilizers, boozing it up, and pointing guns at strangers.

    White trash about sums it up. "I can't try to do something else because then I'll lose my corporate 'welfare' check." Call me a whaaaamulance. [urbandictionary.com]

  • Re:Not news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Barbara, not Barbie ( 721478 ) <`barbara.hudson' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday April 13, 2012 @05:41PM (#39679841) Journal

    Imagine a leak resulting in a New York Times front page in 1943, "Allies Crack German Enigma Code Machine!" when the Germans thought it was secure in a practical sense through the end of the war. How many battles would we have lost? Maybe even the war.

    Actually, what could have been done was to publish stories about the code being cracked well before it was. DIsinformation is a very effective wartime tool.

    From that point on, every failed plan would be attributed to the imaginary "they cracked the code!"

    And then when it was finally cracked, even if someone leaked the truth, they wouldn't be believed, because by then it would be "obvious" that the stories were just a plant designed to encourage FUD.

    Similar to how the brits published bogus accounts of german attacks (v1, v2) that caused high casualties when they missed their targets, to encourage them to keep missing ...

  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <brian@bixby.gmail@com> on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:09PM (#39680185)
    it just seems really odd to me, to hold an employer responsible for your life and happiness

    Unfortunately that's the case with an awful lot of executive types. The husband of my wife's co-worker came very close to suicide when the dot-com he worked at folded and he suddenly had no reason to live. He made her life miserable until he finally found another job that he could spend 90 hrs/week at. I knew a fellow years ago who barely noticed when he got divorced, since the primary focus in his life was his job. It's a sad, sick lifestyle.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:36PM (#39680447) Homepage

    This is too much like a cockroach problem. Slashdotters have been complaining about these kinds of practices for a very long time. People need to befriend this whistle blower so he doesn't commit suicide or some violent crime. I get the feeling he was quite naive and believed he was doing "the right thing in the right way" and now he is paying the price with his physical and mental health. (If it was me, I'd be riding my bicycle and playing XBox games all day collecting a paycheck or finding other ways to enjoy the vacation... but maybe that's a stupid idea too for reasons I haven't yet considered.) I have dealt with some ugly situaitons in the past (though not quite as ugly as this) and I simply had to maintain my course and attitude through it all. I had to remember not to let "other parties" determine who I am and that I will not change who I am in response to anything anyone else does to me. I also had to keep my eyes on the horizon rather than focusing on "here and now."

    These companies like Infosys are scum. They want to play in the US market and make US dollars, but they don't want to play by US laws and are willing to commit criminal acts in the name of business. I hope people are imprisoned, deported and businesses get shut down. And before anyone makes claims about killing industries and all that nonsense, I just have to say it'll never happen. There is still a lot of money to be made in the software business even when playing by the rules and operating within the law. The only problem these fat, greedy, lazy Indian companies have is they don't want to SHARE the profits according to the law and according to any sense of fairness and respect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @06:46PM (#39680549)

    Its actually worse than you think.

    Why is John Corzine not in jail? He "lost" $600 million of investor money with no trace, yet there is a record of him transferring $200 million just days before it disappeared. Thats not the suprising part though. His firm had to comply with SOX regulations so money can't be transferred without someone's name being on it. In addition any lost investor money would be the sole responsibility, criminally as well, of the CEO who signed off on the SEC filings. They were apparently not SOX compliant. The BEST part of the story, Corzine was actually in the Senate when SOX was voted on and he voted yes.

    So you have someone who agreed with SOX rules, running an investment company not following the SOX rules, breaking the law, signing illegal statements, and he is not in jail. There isn't a more clear cut case of SOX violations possible and it was done by someone who agreed with SOX laws enough to vote on them.

    If they won't enforce the law on Corzine they should just drop it. Anyone in the future gets caught by it just brings up his case and the 14th Amendment and they should get off instantly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @07:32PM (#39681011)

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Still, it blows.

    I work at Infosys and have been for the past 9 years, I am no top brass, nor am I am manager, I am a developer. I am in the UK not in the US but I am in the firm. Now I am no big fan of Infosys, for me it gives me work i like and pays the bills I don't worship the founders nor do I bad mouth them. But one thing I can guarantee is that hounding and death threats from Infosys are not possible, I know of an Infosys that listens to its employees, it may not act on their issues but it _will_ listen. In my experience over the last 9 years, if you escalate bad behavior it is acted upon every single time. If an employee acts as a whistle blower he is protected. Infosys goes over the board with transparency in its dealings with employees, regulators and customers.
    Heck I have to tell clients of a mere possibility of a schedule slipping. Something that is routine is most IT projects (outsourced or not) but we do it.
    Infosys quarterly filings to the shareholders are some of the most comprehensive.
    Infosys' insistence on detail and procedural oversight in everything it does is thorough to an extent of being painful at times.
    I cant help but think this rabbit hole goes far deeper than what it seems and in both directions.
    I cant claim to know the in's and out's of this case and for all my statements here there may be a serious procedural flaw or a managers greed in saving a few bucks and getting work done on an unacceptable visa. But this is certainly not an endemic problem, if any thing this is a case of exception to the rule, that's my gut feeling.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @08:21PM (#39681393)

    I work for a company that uses Infosys' services in the UK and I've seen first hand how close to the line of immigration law Infosys like to play.

    My gut feeling is that this is not a one-off.

    That said, the Indian team members brought over by Infosys are hard working and well paid, and enjoy a standard of living in India that's far ahead of my own in the UK.

    Posted anon for reasons of commercial sensitivity.

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @10:36AM (#39685083)

    ...as one would expect of the kind of sociopaths who create this situation in the first place.

    Exactly. Unfortunately, I have found that there are a surprising number of nice, functional, competent and reasonably successful people in this world who have not encountered sociopathy directly and have no real clue how it works, and are completely shocked when they finally encounter a sociopath head on. Almost makes me glad I grew up with one in the house ;-)

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson