In June 2015, the New York Times ran an article about 250 IT workers at Disney
who were not only replaced by immigrants using the H1-B program, but were expected to train their replacements.
The story has been used ever since to talk about the issues surrounding the H1-B program that allows for companies to import cheaper labor from outside of the United States.
One key element of the program is that the foreigner workers are used to fill vacancies unfilled by American workers. With Disney having the American workers training those who were coming in it seemed like a cut and dry example of how the system isn’t supposed to work. In January of this year two lawsuits were filed
by employees who lost their jobs as part of the “restructuring” of the IT department.
In the lawsuits, it alleged that Disney had not followed the rules of the H1-B program since they replaced their employees with new foreign ones, but this week the lawsuits were thrown out. Disney hasn’t technically replaced their employees; instead, they hired a firm to provide labor in the IT department. Those companies (HCL Inc. and Cognizant Technologies) didn’t replace any workers. Instead, they created new positions for the foreign workers. While those new positions are technically the old positions held by Disney workers since the new workers aren’t working for Disney but for HCL and Cognizant, the H1-B program views the positions as new.
The lawsuits were dismissed
earlier this month since the two employees who were suing Disney and HCL had stated the companies made false statements on the application. The application was completed by HCL who stated in it none of its own employees would be adversely affected. This is true since the employees being adversely affected were on Disney’s payroll and HCL’s.
More than 100 of the 250 laid off workers have been offered other positions including one of the cast members involved in the lawsuit. Disney confirmed that the job offered to her was at comparable pay to her previous position.
There’s still no information on the status of the roughly 150 other workers.
At the end of the day, it looks like Disney has once again found yet another loophole in its continual quest to bring ever cheaper labor to the United States.
After all, it’s hard to keep those quarterly income results going up when you make roughly $2 billion a quarter in net income.