The Walt Disney Company responded Tuesday to a pair of lawsuits alleging that it laid off American workers only to replace them with foreigners who were in the country on H-1B visas. Disney said the lawsuit isn’t based in truth and challenged claims by former employees Leo Perrero and Dena Moore that a recent restructuring left hundreds of American citizens without a place in the company.
"These lawsuits are based on an unsustainable legal theory and are a wholesale misrepresentation of the facts,” the vast enterntainment conglomerate said in a statement. “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,” the company said, referring to a New York Times report about the lawsuit published Monday.
Perrero and Moore, who worked at Walt Disney World in Florida, filed lawsuits Monday in federal court in Tampa and are seeking class-action status for the 250 technology workers they assert were intentionally supplanted with immigrants. The lawsuits, which also name the global outsourcing companies HCL and Cognizant as defendants, represent the first time that American workers have sued the outsourcers and Disney over H-1B visas, according to the Times.
“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,” Disney said in its statement.
Through the outsourcing firms, Indian and other foreign workers in tech, accounting and administration are increasingly using the H-1B visa system to win an outsized share of 85,000 visas allowed by Congress each year. But employers are required to declare on the Department of Labor visa applications that the hiring of foreign workers “will not adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed,” according to the Times.
The Labor Department has been investigating Disney over claims that it discriminates against American workers through the visa system. The probe continues, according to media reports.