Former Walt Disney World employees who were laid off and made to train their foreign replacements have filed class-action lawsuits against Disney and the consulting firms that provided the foreign labor.
The layoffs at Walt Disney made national headlines but had personal implications for the American tech workers who were laid off from Disney and replaced with less expensive temporary workers on H-1B visas.
Monday, two of the employees Leo Perrero and Dena Moore — both laid off from Disney and made to train the immigrant workers hired to replace them — filed federal civil RICO suits in Tampa charging that Disney and the consulting firms colluded to replace them with lower paid foreign workers for corporate gain.
Perrero’s suit is against Disney and HCL Inc. while Dena Moore’s suit is against Disney and Cognizant Technology Solutions.
Sara Blackwell, the attorney for both Perrero and Moore, told Breitbart News that the consulting firms — HCL and Cognizant — have business models based on deceit for “corporate greed.” While the companies are required to attest that the foreign labor they are bringing into the country will not “adversely affect the working of conditions of workers similarly situated,” Blackwell explained they regularly misrepresent the facts.
“Cognizant and HCL their business model is to lie on these applications. It’s their business model to falsify these documentations so they can contract hundreds of thousands of jobs with all these companies,” she explained in an interview. “Then these companies hire them to do exactly what they’re not supposed to do,” replace “similarly situated” American workers.
As the suit explained in October 2014 between 200-300 Disney workers were laid off and made to train their foreign replacements in order to receive severance and their bonuses. Few workers were rehired and the suit alleges that some were blackballed from being rehired at Disney for at least a year. The suit argues that the workers laid off and replaced constitute a class.
“HCL’s contract with DISNEY was ultimately intended to adversely affect the working conditions of the similarly situated workers at DISNEY by terminating American workers and forcing them to train the H1B workers their jobs before the termination. Also, HCL’s contract with Disney was intended to discriminate against the American worker based on race, national origin and, many times, age,” Perrero’s lawsuit against HCL reads.
The suit seeks monetary damages but Blackwell said the end goal is to force Disney, the consulting firms and similar organization to change their business models.
“This is really just about trying to stop these companies from doing this. If we can get the federal judge to say, ‘You can’t do this anymore’ then their business model is broken down and we can create change,” Blackwell explained.
While the companies have denied wrongdoing the lawsuit comes as H-1B visas are already under a microscope due to a swell of abuse allegations in recent months.
As The New York Times has reported, the Labor Department has opened investigations into the layoffs at Disney and Southern California Edison, another company experienced mass layoffs in 2014. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) — have sounded the alarm and called for more investigations and legislation to tighten up the H-1B visa program.
“American workers are systematically losing their jobs by the hundreds because we and the American government are allowing it to happen due to the systematic abuse of immigration system,” Blackwell said.
In a statement provided after publication Disney defended itself against the charges, slammed the lawsuit and criticized The New York Times, the outlet that first reported the lawsuit.
These lawsuits are based on an unsustainable legal theory and are a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts. Contrary to reports, Ms. Moore was offered another position in the company at comparable pay, and more than 100 of the workers affected by the changes were rehired. Hundreds of employers use the H1B visa program, including the New York Times, whose current CEO is working in the U.S on an H1B visa – a fact that it regularly fails to disclose in its reporting.