Walt Disney Parks & Resorts has asked a federal judge to dismiss a suit brought by 30 former employees who say they were discriminated against on the basis of race and national origin when they were replaced by Indians on H-1B visas.
Disney asked for the dismissal Wednesday on an amended complaint, filed Jan. 25, which added hostile work environment to the original suit filed last year. Disney said the suit fails to state claims of intentional discrimination, which were identified in its original Jan. 10 motion to dismiss.
The lawsuit says Disney “acted with malice and reckless disregard” when the company laid off 250 employees in October 2014 after outsourcing some of its information technology functions to an Indian vendor. The Disney employees had to train their foreign replacements before leaving the jobs.
Companies have used H-1B visas to save money by hiring foreign workers who work for less pay and no benefits. The visas allow employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations.
Sarasota Attorney Sara Blackwell, who represents the former workers, said Disney is one of hundreds of companies that have used the H-1B visas to replace American workers. She listed ToysRUs, Carnival Cruise Lines, State Farm Insurance, J.P. Morgan and Citibank as just some of the companies that have used the visas.
“All of these companies are going to Mexico and India where there is no workers comp and they are paying workers about $6,000 a year,” Blackwell said. “It is so much cheaper for American companies to use this slave labor.”
Blackwell said she intends to win this case, not just for the Disney workers but for all Americans. She added that a win for Disney would mean “there are no laws that protect American workers.”
“This is a message to America and all the billionaire CEOs that they cannot continue to use cheap foreign labor to replace American workers,” she said.
Counsel for Disney did not respond to a request for comment.