Laid Off Disney Employees Had to Train Replacements Before Leaving Job

Imagine being told by your employer that you're being laid off but before you leave your job you'll be required to train your replacements. This is what happened to about 250 Walt Disney World employees last fall as part of what Disney corporate called a "reorganization."

Not-so-magical layoffs at the Walt Disney World ResortNot-so-magical layoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort

The employees were mostly tech workers, the ones who worked behind the scenes to keep the Disney World computer systems running for ticket sales, merchandise, reservations, and more.

Their jobs were being eliminated so that they could be filled by immigrants on temporary visas for "highly skilled technical workers." These replacements were being brought in from an outsourcing firm in India and the Disney workers who were being laid off had to train their replacements.

These layoffs and subsequent outsourcing to fill the same jobs have raised issues about how companies like Disney are using H-1B temporary visas to hire immigrants to fill tech jobs in this country. According to an article in the New York Times there's a debate happening in Congress about whether these workers are complementing American workers or merely displacing them.

The guidelines for the use of these visas state that the visas are for foreigners with advance science or computer skills to fill positions when American workers with the same skills aren't available. The use of the visas also shouldn't have a negative effect on the wages or work conditions of those American workers.

But there are enough loopholes in the guidelines that allow companies to not hire American workers or lay them off in order to bring in the foreign contractors.
Disney has said the layoffs were part of a reorganization and in the end there was a gain of 70 jobs.

The laid off employees were given a three-month transition period and 120 of the cast members were placed in different jobs within the company. Another 40 retired or left the company.

The employees also received a "stay bonus" of 10 percent of their severance pay if they remained on the job for 90 days with "satisfactory performance" of their job duties, including training their replacement.

What are your thoughts on this hiring practice? Leave us a comment and let us know.


K94me wrote on Thu, 06/11/2015 - 12:07:

K94me's picture

Thanks for posting the good and the bad of Disney. Disney is a business, Big Business, and companies everywhere are thinking more about their stock prices than the employees that work for them. Yes, it sounds like they got severance pay, but it doesn't say how much. This is another example for government trying to do the right thing and failing miserably. Hmm, I wonder if Disney got some sort of incentive for doing this? Hopefully these displaced people will find another job soon!

David DeSanto wrote on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 01:42:

David DeSanto's picture

This practice is despicable and serves as a perfect example of how competition between many workers for few jobs creates a race to the bottom where everyone tries to perform work for as little pay as possible in order to secure employment. There is no way an American can compete with foreign contract labor.

Brent Kruger wrote on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 22:15:

Brent Kruger 's picture

I live in Canada and the same thing happened...the public was outraged and the Canadian government stopped the temporary foreign worker program indefinitely and also made some serious changes in the skilled workers legislation

Chip wrote on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 22:15:

Chip's picture

Florida Power and Light did something very similar to about 3000 employees in the early 90's
Welcome to Florida.

Debbie wrote on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 22:48:

Debbie's picture

This saddens me to my very core. It also impacts how I will see Disney in the future. It's time to say good-bye to all things Disney.

Amo wrote on Fri, 06/12/2015 - 23:54:

Amo's picture

This is totally unfair to the hard working people of the United States. I wish there was a way to make this stop but as long as personal gain for Corporate America and its politians is this country's main focus, this won't change.

Todd wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 00:29:

Todd's picture

Horrible for a company claiming to be all about the families, shame on Disney!

Mary Lynn wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 02:03:

Mary Lynn's picture

This sort of thing happens a lot; in the business world. I know some people would like to think Disney is above this sort of b.s.; I am one of them. I suppose I need to remember they ARE a business but it DOES still disappoint me.

Pane wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 02:07:

Pane's picture

Uh yeah.

1. Disney decided NOT to outsource
2. This hasn't even happened yet but the article talks as if it already has.

Nance wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 10:15:

Nance's picture

This is happening everywhere!! Time for a change for American workers! This is why unions were formed oh so many years ago. I'm not union worker or member but it's time Americans stood up and claimed their rights back. These workers are being subsidized by our taxes too!

AliBobbins wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 10:40:

AliBobbins's picture

Wow.... Just wow, I'm so glad the employment laws in the UK won't allow such practices. If a person is "laid off" the role has to be made redundant and a person can't be brought back into the job role for a minimum of (I think)3 months, however someone can be brought in with a different job role that encompasses the work.

Susan levine wrote on Sat, 06/13/2015 - 19:23:

Susan levine's picture

Disney corp. should be ashamed of themselves. HOW DARE THEY!

Njsmommy wrote on Sun, 06/14/2015 - 04:35:

Njsmommy 's picture

my husband's former employer, Telcordia Tecnologies, did the same thing here in NJ about 8 years ago. Made him train his replacements while they were in India. Company outsourced large number of jobs. Laid off people with 20-30 years in the company so they could pay the foreigners less money. Hope they're happy with the replacements...nobody else can understand them, and they're rude as hell, but cheap labor trumps quality I guess. Disney should be ashamed of themselves. We used to frequent Disney World. Once or twice a year for a week or more for about 20 years. We haven't been since the ticket prices skyrocketed. Idk if we'll ever go back. Shameful. Walt is probably turning in his grave!

Lynn D wrote on Tue, 06/16/2015 - 17:33:

Lynn D's picture

It is a terrible thing to do, but it happens more than any of us would like to think. Bottom line for a business is their bottom line and if they can cut by bringing in skilled help without dealing with some of the issues that bog down employers in America, they will. There are so many laws that give employees things that cost their employers an extreme amount of money, so sending jobs elsewhere or bringing in people from elsewhere is all too tempting. Something needs to be done to stop this practice from being so attractive to businesses. Personally I think Disney is getting all too greedy in every aspect.

Fred West wrote on Thu, 02/04/2016 - 14:34:

Fred West's picture

I didn't see anyone mentioning our Government's role in this business practice...The buck should stop at Obama's desk..It's up to him to control his Departments and his Czars and insure this "practice" doesn't happen to us...Just one more failure of the Obama Administration...

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