Disney Co. has been hit with two separate lawsuits after the company hired more than 300 workers on H-1B visas to replace part of its already established US workforce.
Leo Perrero and Dena Moore say they were illegally replaced and that Disney told them to train their foreign replacements for 90 days or lose their bonuses and severance packages.
Perrero and Moore were laid off from their IT jobs at Walt Disney World in Orlando in January 2015.
The lawsuits, filed in a Tampa federal court Monday, charge Disney and two global consulting companies, HCL and Cognizant, for colluding to break the law.
Those outsourcing companies are known for submitting a high volume of H-1B petitions each year. By law, H-1B workers can’t replace American workers, and the suit alleges that’s exactly what the three companies did.
Both lawsuits were filed by attorney Sara Blackwell. She also issued Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filings on behalf of former Disney workers.
Blackwell says other companies have conducted the same type of business. Typically they require employees to sign a severance agreement preventing them from suing or speaking out about the firm. She said some companies will offer as much as $20,000.
Disney apparently didn’t have such a clause in their severance package agreement.
Blackwell said it makes these two complaints especially significant.
“We want to show America that this is what’s happening right under your nose,” Blackwell says.
Disney opened up 100 new jobs and told laid-off employees they could apply for that work, however, Perrero says he was told there was a one-year period before he could apply. Other employees were allegedly told the same thing.
Moore says after applying for several other jobs, they were told those positions were only being offered to H-1B workers and foreigners.
What is more troubling is that Disney is firing capable workers to hire H-1B visa workers. The United States only issues a certain number of visas per year and once they are gone, no more are issued. That means Disney is taking away potential needed employees from other companies.