Ex-Disney IT staffers in Florida have accused the Mickey Mouse outfit of discrimination, and now hope to sue their former bosses.
The nearly two dozen techies claim they were forced to train and then hand their jobs over to foreigners working in America on H-1B visas.
Attorney Sara Blackwell told The Register she has filed complaints with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of 23 Disney employees who were let go earlier this year.
The complaints are the first step in what could become a class-action discrimination lawsuit against Disney. The deadline for filing the grievances under a title seven claim is Wednesday this week, 300 days after the techies were axed. The commission will then consider the case in full.
According to Blackwell, the IT workers' rights were violated when late last year they were notified they would be replaced by workers coming from India on H-1B visas. The outgoing staff were asked to stay on for several weeks to train their replacements, and dismissed in January of this year, we're told.
Blackwell told us that in addition to discriminating against the US workers on the basis of nationality, the dismissals included workers over the age of 40 and workers who are women, so age and gender discrimination are also being claimed in the EEOC filings.
Should the commission find grounds for a legal complaint, the 23 workers will then have the option of filing suit against Disney on their own or, as Blackwell expects will be the case, together in a class-action lawsuit.
This would set the stage for a legal showdown between Disney and the workers on whether it is legal to terminate US workers and hand their positions over to H-1B-holding foreigners.
Blackwell noted the case is "very early" in the legal process, and a number of procedural steps remain before any likely resolution is reached.
Disney did not return a request for comment on the matter.
The H-1B issue has become a hotly debated topic, particularly in the technology and IT sectors, where politicians worry that foreign workers are replacing capable American employees. Companies have countered that in many cases there are not enough qualified American applicants for engineering and developer positions that H-1B visa holders are used to fill. ®