Class Claims Disney Fired Them to Hire Indian Workers

By AIMEE SACHS

(CN) – A class of former Disney employees say race was the reason they were fired in 2014 and replaced by workers from India.

In a lawsuit filed in the federal court in Orlando, Florida on Monday, the former Walt Disney Parks and  Resorts employees claim that in October 2014 they were told their employment would be terminated effective January 2015.

All of the employees worked in the administrative offices of the company, and in all, about 250 lost their jobs.

“Defendant terminated the employment of plaintiffs based solely on their national origin and race, replacing them with Indian nationals,” the lawsuit states.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs were forced to train their replacements and experienced discriminatory treatment.

“During the training period, defendant created a hostile work environment by treating plaintiffs differently than before,” the complaint says. “Specifically, defendant was now being curt and unprofessional toward plaintiffs but treating the foreign replacements with special treatment.”

“Defendant knew or should have known of the disparate treatment suffered by plaintiffs and failed to intervene or to take prompt and effective remedial action in response,” the lawsuit claims.

In addition to the disparate treatment, class members say they were denied other positions Disney had posted even though they were qualified.

The complaint says Disney’s actions also violated the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act as well as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, compensation for lost wages and reinstatement to positions similar to their previous jobs.

They are represented by Luis Cabassa of  Wenzel Fenton Cabassa PA in Tampa, Florida.

Two similar lawsuits were previously dismissed by a federal judge this fall. In those lawsuits, two former Disney IT workers alleged the contractors made false statements on the visa forms for the workers who would replace them.

Disney has said the 250 employees were let go under an IT restructuring that shifted its focus to digital and other technologies, and that their work involved skills the company no longer needed. More than 100 of the workers eventually were rehired, the company said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.