Disney Still Facing Lawsuit Over Replacement of U.S. Workers With Immigrants

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Disney World - H 2015

Mickey and Minnie Mouse Disney World - H 2015

A racketeering lawsuit against Disney over how it allegedly conspired with an IT consulting firm to replace hundreds of American tech workers at Walt Disney World nearly landed with a thud. On Tuesday, a Florida federal judge threw out the complaint from Leo Perrero and others similarly situated that claimed that Disney colluded with HCL to abuse the H-1B visa process by falsely telling the Department of Labor that the hiring of foreigners wouldn't adversely affect the working conditions of U.S. workers. However, on Wednesday, the judge quickly vacated the dismissal order, leaving the case as live.

Word that Disney workers were forced to train immigrant replacements sparked outrage after it was covered by The New York Times, but after being brought to court, Disney stated in a motion to dismiss there was nothing inherently unlawful about using a workforce that includes H-1B visa holders. On allegations of misstatements in visa applications, HCL argued that the plaintiffs were confused about the forms that required certification that U.S. workers weren't being displaced. The ones being hired were exempt from such certification, it said.

The plaintiffs didn't respond by the deadline, according to the judge, so for that reason plus motions that according to the judge "appear to be meritorious," the complaint was initially dismissed. An attorney for the plaintiff says it was a "mistake of the court." A response to the motion to dismiss is now due July 12.

Disney as well as Cognizant Technology Solutions are facing a second putative class action lawsuit led by Dena Moore. She also says she was laid off by Disney, trained her replacements and unsuccessfully applied for another job at the company. 

The defendants have similarly doubted the racketeering claims and inference of unlawful agreements as "speculation." 

Updated 6/15 1:55 PM EST: The story has been updated to reflect the fact that the judge vacated the dismissal order.