30 former information technology employees filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in December; the workers claim they were required to train their Indian replacements before losing employment. Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Smith recommended that the workers be denied class-action status.
Sara Blackwell, a Sarasota attorney and one of the representatives for the former employees, said of the decision, “It’s a message to the American people the laws are just against us when it comes to offshoring and outsourcing business models.”
In October of 2014, 250 American-born or naturalized U.S. citizens working for the company were told their employment would end Jan 31st, 2015. They were also instructed that they must train new employees, Indian naturals who had just arrived, as part of the company’s information technology restructuring. The workers’ lawsuit claims discrimination.
Smith’s decision to recommend denial of class-action status stemmed from other variables in the job terminations. Since the fired employees all had differing levels of seniority, held different positions, and dealt with different management, Smith does not believe a class-action lawsuit should apply. The Judge’s recommendation stated, “To the extent Plaintiffs had performance issues, those issues were unique to each Plaintiff. Plaintiffs were terminated for different reasons.”
It was Disney’s strategy to convince the judge that workers were fired on a case-by-case basis. A spokeswoman for Disney stated, “As we have said all along, this lawsuit is baseless and we will continue to defend it vigorously.”
The Judge’s recommendation also stated that by February of 2015, 105 of the 250 terminated workers had found new employment at the company. It is not referenced whether those employees are receiving a similar salary to their previous positions.
Smith’s decision is just a recommendation, and the final decision will be up to U.S. District Judge Carlos Mendoza. Mendoza is presiding over the case in Orlando.
Source: The Orlando Sentinel