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Disney Workers Laid Off and Asked to Train Foreign Replacements

Imagine receiving notice that you'd just lost your job. It'd be devastating. But, then, just think about being asked to train your replacement over a series of months – as you discovered that the jobs had been transferred to labor imported from other countries on a temporary visa for highly skilled technical workers. Would that kind of a situation feel like some kind of new level of hell? That's just what happened to workers at Disney, who found themselves facing unemployment ... and training the workers who would soon take over their jobs.

Imagine receiving notice that you’d just lost your job. It’d be devastating. But, then, just think about being asked to train your replacement over a series of months – as you discovered that the jobs had been transferred to labor imported from other countries on a temporary visa for highly skilled technical workers. Would that kind of a situation feel like some kind of new level of hell? That’s just what happened to workers at Disney, who found themselves facing unemployment … and training the workers who would soon take over their jobs.

dark side of Disney

(Photo credit: Robert D. Bruce/Flickr)

According to The Orlando Sentinel, 250 employees who managed Disney World’s data systems were summarily told, in October 2014, that their jobs were ending, effective January 2015. And, if the layoff wasn’t gut-wrenching enough, some employees were then required to train their replacements (workers who were brought in on H-1B work visas, via a firm in India). 

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A similar situation happened at Southern California Edison power utility, too. That news broke in February 2015. As we can well imagine, the dismissed employees were furious, according to Computer World

Layoffs are inevitable, particularly in some industries. It’s never something we want to experience, but most of us have, at least once. While we may accept the reality that “it happens,” it just feels wrong when Disney asked its employees to train their own replacements.

And, it should feel wrong. After all, the guidelines state that those H-1B work visas should not “adversely affect the wages and work conditions” America. Being laid off, and then being asked to train one’s replacement – that really is an super-negative effect. It’s one of those experiences that may stay with workers for the rest of their lives. 

And, yes, we can all agree, this work-visa program is necessary for some situations. There’s a reason for it, and we can also see why Disney might want to deploy work-visa labor. We can also see why the employers would want their exiting employees to train the on-boarding additions.

1. It’s cheaper.

Workers from other countries are willing to work for less money. So, as Professor Ronil Hira testified before Congress, the program to substitute cheaper labor has become a lucrative business model.

Also, by asking the laid-off employees to train the new workers, the company is not losing as much of that historical on-the-job experience and knowledge.

2. It’s diverse.

Diversity is a great thing, and some companies like Disney pride themselves on being a melting pot. What better way to ensure diversity than to draw from international sources?

By asking the former employees to train the new workers, they are also ensuring that some of the former work culture is retained. It would not have been the “happiest place on Earth” to work, particularly for those employees who knew they were losing their jobs, though.

3. It’s highly skilled labor.

The argument has been, and the guidelines have supported, that the application is for those workers who are filling a role with skills that could not be located. Of course, evidence shows that companies are hiring H-1B workers to fill technical positions that are already filled (laying off workers in the process).

Yes, it’s a brutal reality. We all know that companies have to lay off workers at times – for reasons that sometimes even make sense. But, there are also reasons for those H-1B guidelines, and there are very huge examples of why critics are so adamantly opposed to the program.

The crux of it is that we want to feel that when we get a job, and we do it well, that we will be able to retain it, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Disney and other companies like it have now demonstrated that it’s just not that way. And, now, we have to figure out ways to make sure that this situation doesn’t happen for others.

The first step is to talk about it. Educate yourself on what’s happening in the workplace. The next step is to take action. Let your voice be heard, and make sure your Congressman has the information he/she needs to protect your job.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever been laid off, and then asked to train your replacement? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter

Esther Lombardi
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20 Comments on "Disney Workers Laid Off and Asked to Train Foreign Replacements"

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I guess I have to say that I am done with Disney too. We consumers need to school ourselves more on who is supporting or implementing these things. Maybe Disneyland and Disneyworld and their so called leaders will be better of by moving to India


You can blame this disney fiasco On people like Clinton and Obama—they are the ones who approved trade agreements and job agreements with other country’s…and denying americans jobs—-and paying foreign people less money to boost higher profits for the chinese who OWN Disney now—when you bought your foreign made cars folks…you sent a message to washington that you accepts manufacturing from other lands…so why does this crapola surprise you? my advice—–go back to fucking school and learn your american history better—idiots…you allowed this to happen—right under your arrogant noses –‘we’re so special’

M Ford

I think this it totally rediculous. I love Disney and have been enough times to Disney World Orlando that we know everywhere there and could be guides but after finding out this that Disney is practicing this kind of hiring practicing tactics, I’ll tell you this, we won’t be spending any more of our money on anything Disney including trips, movies or anything having to do with Disney!! ??????????


We not only need to boycott against Disney, but the companies who grow and process the food we eat. The clothes we wear, and just about every product we consume.

I have been programming since 1993. I have seen the most change in IT jobs in the last four years. The point is that all American industry job/careers have been shut down and sent overseas for years. When I was going to San Jose State in the early 80’s, there were students rioting on campus for companies that were outsourcing jobs/careers. The corporate greed and the demolishing of America have been in motion for decades. People are just now feeling the effect. I have been a Democratic most of my life and for the first time hearing Donald Trump’s speech… Read more »

In the event I HAVE TO train my replacement I am going to make damn sure to show them all the wrong ways so they get shipped back. After all I already lost my job. Screw it I’m taking them down with me!!!!

For those planning to boycott Disney… you should carry a consistent policy into the rest of your life. Most of the software you are using right now was developed by engineers working for companies with similar offshoring practices. Please permanently shut down your computer right now and tell all your friends to do the same. Also get rid of your cell phone, tablet, TV and all other electronics. Do not book airline reservations, do not shop at stores with computerized cash registers and do not use banks. Sell your car immediately and get one 20+ years old with no on-board… Read more »
I’m so sick of Companies acting like this towards the country in which they reside. Screw you Disney, unless I hear you hire those people back you’ll never see another cent of my money or my families money for as long as I live. Disney was supposed to bring joy, not bring sorrow through repeated incidents of shady buisness practices in the media. This is from Disneys website “Hiring Practices … Our mission is to drive the people dimension of our business, consistent with Disney’s culture and …” So I guess your culture is being money grubbing, greedy, selfish, and… Read more »
Hugh J

I will make certain that more than 100 people in my extended family are made aware of this and we will cease giving them one more dime of our money! Make it hurt and they will stop this practice!

Robert Isley

Laid off used to mean there was no work and that you would eventually be called back to work when business improved….whatever happened to that? Shame on you Disney. Your company makes Billion$…..


Perhaps American workers are paid too much. Others are willing to do the exact same jobs for far less pay.


I am sure that the HR departments that pulled this off did not follow the preliminary steps before hiring H1-B visa migrant workers. I was displaced by one and it does not feel good at all. The US wages at the lowest step here are still huge increase for India. With Millions of migrants willing to take these jobs here, industries simply get destroyed here.

Disney and other employers that terminate American employees in order to import cheap labor should be sued by the federal government. The way things are going, Americans, especially in the tech workspace, will have to get foreign visas and look for employment overseas. H-1b visa holders in tech get paid 1/4 to 1/3 of what Americans get. They spend a minimal part of they low pay and send the rest back home. These companies are decimating the U.S. economy by doing this. Even highly skilled white-collar workers who have worked hard to get their knowledge & skills can no longer… Read more »

Sri kanth, what rudeness.


Employment just gets suckier by the day…



I’m not understanding how this is all being done. Having been in HR for 35 years and recruiting for positions that required H-1B visas, we had difficulty demonstrating our need to go out of the country for talent. First, we had to prove we had recruited via ads, recruiters, etc. throughout the US to find a qualified candidate in the US. If approved for the visa, we had to then prove we were paying the “prevailing wage” in within the US. The process was so complicated and lengthy, it really discouraged a company. Therefore, you only used this for very,… Read more »
Sri Kanth

The author reversed the roles of “Trainers” and “Trainees”. It’s the H1B folks who are asked to train their replacements.

Sri Kanth

The author replaced the roles of “Trainers” and “Trainees”. It’s the H1B folks who are asked to train their replacements.


I will not be taking a vacation, watching a movie or a TV show that is associated with Disney, do to sourcing out these AMERCAN workers jobs. I had a job I was at for 8 years sourced out to a company in mexico after we were promised and assured by our employer that we would not be losing our job. And just like these folks we trained our replacements to be replaced by them.

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