The H1-B visa program allows employers in California and around the country to hire foreign individuals who possess skills or qualifications that Americans workers lack. Some labor advocates say that large U.S. and international companies are using such programs to reduce payroll costs by replacing American employees with foreign workers who are willing to accept lower wages and fewer benefits, and the Walt Disney Company has borne the brunt of much of this criticism.
The California-based company faced a barrage of criticism in late 2014 when media outlets reported that 250 Disney IT workers in Orlando had been fired and replaced with H1-B visa recipients from India. This criticism grew even fiercer when it was reported that the American workers were ordered to train their Indian replacements before being terminated. Attorneys representing the fired IT workers filed a lawsuit against Disney in Orlando on Dec. 12. The litigation claims workplace discrimination based on national origin and age.
Two similar lawsuits brought against Disney on behalf of terminated IT workers have already been dismissed by a federal judge, and a representative of the company said that the latest litigation lacked merit and would likely meet a similar fate. The company claims that the workers were fired as part of a company-wide reorganization and points out that 100 of the terminated workers have subsequently been rehired.
Positions that pay well can be difficult to find even when the economy is performing well, and thousands of workers in California and across the country deal with harassment or discrimination in silence because they fear that speaking up may cost them their jobs. Attorneys with employment law experience will likely understand these concerns, and they may be able to put them to rest by explaining the severe sanctions that employers could face for taking retaliatory action of any kind against workers who avail themselves of rights guaranteed by federal or state law.