8:12am PT by Eriq Gardner
Judge Rejects Lawsuit Against Disney for Replacing U.S. Workers With Immigrants
The American tech workers at Walt Disney World who lost their jobs to immigrants, but not before having to train their replacements, have just suffered a big setback in court. On Thursday, a Florida federal judge dismissed a proposed class action that charged Disney and its consulting firm with committing racketeering.
The lawsuit from Leo Perrero and others similarly situated drew widespread attention upon filing earlier this year. They attempted to make the case that false statements were submitted to the government attesting that foreigners hired on H-1B visas wouldn't adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers.
In response to the lawsuit, Disney and HCL America argued that immigration law was being misinterpreted, that certification statements to the Department of Labor would only apply to the working conditions of HCL employees, not those working for Disney.
U.S. District Court judge Gregory Presnell agrees that the relevant regulations support such interpretation.
"Thus, even assuming arguendo that the working conditions of [Walt Disney Parks & Resorts] employees were adversely affected when the HCL employees were brought in, HCL’s 'working conditions' certification in the [Labor Condition Applications] was not false," writes the judge. "The only way for that certification to be false would be if the working conditions of HCL’s U.S. worker employees were adversely affected."
Additionally, Presnell writes that with displacement certification isn't required for certain exempt individuals. The plaintiffs attempted to argue that some of the hired workers were non-exempt, but Presnell can't find allegations within the complaint supporting this.
Without any false statements, the judge concludes there are no alleged predicate acts that would carry a civil racketeering claim. The complaint is dismissed, though the judge has granted an opportunity to the plaintiffs to try again with an amended version if they so wish.
"The United States government has created immigration and other laws that have allowed American companies to fire Americans, bring foreigners in this nation to take American jobs, ship American jobs overseas and to also send America's private banking and medical data overseas," says Sara Blackwell, attorney for the plaintiffs, in response to the decision. "These RICO lawsuits were only two of many different legal avenues we are employing to stand up for the rights of American workers and the security of the American people's data. We have not decided, at this moment, if we plan to file an Amended Complaint. However, this loss is one that demonstrates the need for legal protection of American workers and American data."