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Walt Disney hits back, says NYT itself has H-1B employee

business Updated: Jan 28, 2016 09:28 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Walt Disney World

Disney executives said that the lay-offs were part of a reorganisation.(File Photo)

Walt Disney World on Tuesday slammed The New York Times over its reporting of H-1B-related firings at the entertainment giant, alleging it was misrepresenting facts.

It also charged the NY Times with being slow to acknowledge its own use of H-1B visas, including that of its CEO since 2012, Mark Thompson, who is a British national.

In a statement expanding on an earlier version, Disney also said a former employee, mover of one of the two lawsuits filed Monday, was offered an alternate position but turned it down.

The employee, Dena Moore, has alleged in her lawsuit that after being fired in January 2015, she applied for several positions at Disney but was turned down for each of them.

Moore and Leo Perrero, another fired employee, have accused Disney, in separate lawsuits, of conspiring with outsourcing firms — HCL Technologies and Cognizant — to replace US workers with less costly foreigners.

Disney fired around 250 tech employees in 2015, who were replaced by temporary workers on H-1B, mostly Indians, brought in by the two outsourcing giants.

They have been now accused of violating US laws, which mandate that hiring of foreign workers must not adversely impact the working conditions of “similarly situated employees”.

Disney’s first response was defensive, though it did single out NY Times reporting even then, pointing to its own hiring of foreigners on H-1B visas. It issued a stronger statement later.

“The NY Times has deliberately and continuously misrepresented the facts to further its own agenda, while regularly failing to disclose the fact that the Times itself is a user of the H-1B programme,” it said.

“In fact, the Times only belatedly disclosed that it secured an H-1B visa for its current president and CEO Mark Thompson, who replaced an American CEO after her 28 years of service, and by its own admission has 70 employees currently working in the US on foreign work visas.”

Disney didn’t explain why it was singling out the NY Times when the issue was covered widely, but it could be because the publication was the first to report the firings and then the lawsuits.

NY Times did not respond to HT’s requests for comments.

About the lawsuits by its federal employees, the entertainment giant dismissed them as “completely and utterly baseless”, and it said it has been hiring local American workers.

“More than 100 workers affected by the reorganisation into other roles,” it added.

Moore’s lawyer Sara Blackwell disputed Disney’s claim, saying her client was given a job but was prevented from joining for eight weeks. And when she finally did, they offered her a project, which they couldn’t promise would last longer than 30 days.