Infosys Technologies got a major reprieve Monday as an Alabama judge dismissed a whistleblower harassment case against it, but a second similar case and a criminal probe on the visa fraud against the company remains.
In an order issued Monday, U.S. district court judge Myron Thompson dismissed the case filed Jack Jay Palmer, an Infosys employee, who accused the company of harassment and retaliation after his claim about the misuse of the U.S. visa programs by the Indian IT company.
In his ruling, the judge said that the threatening calls and other objectionable statements targeting Palmer were not sufficient enough to prove harassment under the existing Alabama laws, PTI reported.
In his lawsuit, Palmer claimed that he had been harassed and sidelined at work and he had received threatening calls after he questioned the alleged H-1B visa misuse by Infosys.
"Without question, the alleged electronic and telephonic threats are deeply troubling. Indeed, an argument could be made that such threats against whistleblowers, in particular, should be illegal," wrote Thompson in his judgment.
But according to the present Alabama laws, the allegations are not actionable, and hence "this court must conclude that, under current Alabama law, Palmer has no right to recover from Infosys," wrote Thompson, according to a computerworld.com report.
Infosys, which has been denying the harassment and visa-tax fraud allegations, welcomed the judgment.
"Today's decision confirms what we have been saying from the beginning: Mr. Palmer's claims of retaliation were completely unfounded. This is a company built on core values that include leadership by example, integrity and transparency. Those values always have and will continue to shape the way we do business with our clients and, without exception, the way we treat our people. We are pleased to consider this matter officially closed," said Infosys in a statement issued Monday.
However, a separate criminal case against the Indian IT major, based on Palmer's allegations of visa and tax fraud, will continue.
Palmer filed a lawsuit against the Infosys several months ago, claiming that the company had been misusing the USB1 business visas. The B1 visas are issued for short-term business visits and are cheaper and easy to get compared to the H-1B visa. However, it is not an onsite work permit.
Companies can bring in foreign employees to the U.S. for full-time work only on H-1B visas. Palmer alleged that when the U.S. State Department had limited the number of H-1B visas issued to the companies, Infosys started bringing in its Indian employees for full-time onsite work, using the B1 visa.
Besides Palmer, another U.S. employee filed a similar lawsuit against Infosys in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California August 2. Satya Dev Tripuraneni, a former Infosys employee, claimed that he had faced harassment by the management for his role in bringing to light the IT company's misuse of the U.S. visas.
The industry experts believe that Infosys' victory may prevent the emergence of further similar lawsuits against Indian companies.
"Infosys's victory in federal court may very well have a chilling effect on potential copycat lawsuits against Indian companies," Jagdesh Kirpalani, a Birmingham, Alabama-based attorney with Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker, told PTI.
Meanwhile, the shares of Infosys surged more than 3.7 percent touching a six-week high.
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