30 employees of Walt Disney have filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing the company of discriminating against American employees. In what appears to be a spirited response to fight the attempts of the company to outsource its IT function, the employees have filed a suit in the US District Court in Orlando, arguing that the actions of the company in the recent past are based on discrimination by race and country of origin.
The workers argue that the company has been deliberately favoring workers from South East Asia while choosing to lay off American workers.
According to Sarah Blackwell, the attorney who is representing the workers, Disney decided to lay off mostly American workers in its recent internal reorganization programs. She argues that the company then proceeded to outsource the jobs to Asian companies and also brought in new employees, the majority of whom are from South Asian countries. She, therefore, argues that the actions of the company constitute outright discrimination against American workers.
In the recent past, Disney has been attempting to outsource its IT function to Asian companies. However, this action has met resistance from the current crop of employees of the company. One of the leading persons in the current suit, Leo Perrero, who is a former employee of the company, has repeatedly testified to the Congressional committee on how the actions of the company discriminate against American workers.
At one point, Mr Perrero narrated how it was appalling for him and his colleagues to see new Asian workers arriving at the Disney parks, ready to take over the jobs that were held by American employees.
Mr Perrero featured in an earlier suit against Disney which was thrown out of the courts on a technicality.
Change of tact
If anything, the new suit promises to shake Disney. On the one hand, the plaintiffs seem to have changed tact. Instead of directly filing a lawsuit, the plaintiffs first lodged a complaint against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It was only after the two parties failed to reach an agreement before the commission that the current suit has been lodged now.
Disney has been defending its outsourcing approach for long. At one time, its CEO, Bob Iger, said that outsourcing its IT function to Asian firms was helping the company to create more value for its clients and even create more jobs over the long term.
Interestingly, Iger now sits on a specially-appointed committee charged with the responsibility of stopping the offshoring trend in the United States. In the current suit, Sarah Blackwell argues that Iger never bothered to express remorse when his company decided to fire American employees on the basis of their origin and nothing else.