ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A group of information technology workers laid off by Walt Disney World says they’re the victims of national origin discrimination because they were fired and replaced by contractors from India.
The 30 former IT workers sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts on Monday in an Orlando federal court, seeking punitive damages.
The lawsuit contends that 250 IT workers in Florida were told they would need to train their replacements before they were fired at the end of 2014. Each replacement worker was of Indian origin, and was either brought from overseas or working outside the United States, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges violations of the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act, which protects workers from age discrimination.
Disney managers were “being curt and unprofessional toward plaintiffs but treating the foreign replacements with special treatment,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiffs were subjected to disparate treatment by defendant solely based on race or color and ancestry.”
Disney said in a statement, “Like the two other dismissed cases brought by this lawyer, this latest lawsuit is nonsense and we will defend it vigorously.”
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 lawsuit said the workers applied for other Disney jobs but weren’t hired.
The company also said the restructured IT department eventually will be larger than it was and have 300 new jobs for U.S. workers.
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