Employment Law Daily Disney and firms providing visa holders face twin class actions after displacing U.S. workers
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Friday, January 29, 2016

Disney and firms providing visa holders face twin class actions after displacing U.S. workers

By Pamela Wolf, J.D. A pair of former Walt Disney World IT employees have filed separate class action lawsuits alleging that Disney and two different companies who sponsored visa holders engaged in unlawful RICO conspiracies to displace U.S. workers and replace them with cheaper H 1-B visa holders. Purportedly, 200-300 Disney IT employees were told that they were being fired on January 30, 2015, and had 90 days to train their visa-holder replacements. If they refused to train their replacements, who would be provided by either Cognizant Technology Solutions or HCL, Inc., they would forgo a bonus and severance. Those replaced workers, who were allegedly told there were other positions for which they could apply, were purportedly blackballed from rehire for at least a year. The complaints are both filed against Disney; one also names Cognizant and the other names HCL. They allege there are hundreds of potential class members who were victims of conspiracies that operated over a two-to-four year period. Taken together, the complaints assert among other things that Cognizant and HCL made false statements on certain ETA forms “for the purpose of completing H1-B visas for hundreds of foreign workers” when they knew (or consciously avoided the fact) that “Disney would be adversely affecting the working conditions of similarly situated employees by discharging such U.S. workers when it contracted [with them] for large numbers of H1-B holders.” The complaints taken together also assert that at least from 2014 and continuing to the present, Cognizant and Disney in one enterprise, and HCL and Disney in a separate enterprise, conspired with the objective of Cognizant and HCL misrepresenting the nature of the employment of the H1-B visa holders so that Labor Department approval could be obtained for the visa holders, who could then be leased or contracted to Disney. Purportedly Disney, in turn, knowing that Cognizant and HCL would have made false and fraudulent representations on ETA forms, would terminate U.S. workers and hire the H1-B visa holders at a much lower wage and salary. The plaintiffs also assert common law civil conspiracy claims under Florida law. The cases, Moore v. Cognizant Technology Solutions (No. 6:66-CV-113-ORL-28KRS) and Perrero v. HCL Inc. (No. 6:16-CV-112-ORL-31TBS), were filed in the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.

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