Disney has been hit with a pair of lawsuits by two former employees who claim the home of Mickey Mouse conspired with two outsourcing firms to replace workers with less costly foreign ones using H-1B visas.
The two lawsuits were filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida by Leo Perrero and Dena Moore, who were among 250 Disney tech workers laid off around a year ago. The lawsuits seek class-action status.
They each claim that Walt Disney World, HCL and Cognizant colluded to break the law by using temporary H-1B visas to bring in immigrant workers, knowing that Americans would be displaced.
The lawsuits aim to “kick them [outsourcing companies] at their business model, to stop them from systemically abusing the immigration system,” Sara Blackwell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In a statement, Disney said, “These lawsuits are based on an unsustainable legal theory and are a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts.” The company claimed it hired more than 100 people back into other roles and offered Moore another position at comparable pay. It also noted that hundreds of employers use H-1B visas and that it complies with all applicable employment laws.
The basis of the complaint is that the companies violated federal law because the outsourcing firms were misleading when filling out forms to sponsor workers for the visas. They said in forms under oath that working conditions of “similarly situated employees would not be adversely affected,” according to the lawsuits.
“Every time they file these, they are lying and falsifying documents,” Blackwell continued. “Disney is aware there are these requirements and Cognizant and HCL are lying.”
A further two dozen of the Disney workers who were laid off have made complaints to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, which are still under review.
The H-1B visa program was created by Congress in 1990 and allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The program is capped at 85,000 six-year visas per year, although exemptions are allowed for people working in universities.