Luxury plug-in hybrid car company Fisker Automotive is facing a US lawsuit after laying off 160 workers at the end of last week.
Industry journal Automotive News reports that a federal lawsuit has been filed against Fisker, accusing the company of breaking a US federal law requiring employers to give employees advanced notice of mass layoffs.
According to the suit filed on Friday, the maker of the Fisker Karma not only failed to notify the affected employees of their terminations at least 60 days ahead of time, as required by the US Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), but also failed to pay wages and benefits employees would have earned in the 60 days following the layoffs.
Some of the 160 dismissed workers – of Fisker’s roughly 210 employees based at its California headquarters – told Automotive News, they were given no severance pay, other than compensation for unused holiday pay.
The suit – filed on behalf of a former Fisker employee and "other similarly situated former employees" – is seeking class action status and says employees are entitled to an unspecified amount of damages along with individual judgments for each affected employee equal to the wages, salary, bonuses and other benefits that would have normally been earned in 60 days of employment as determined by the WARN Act.
Fisker is also subject to a US$500 civil penalty for each day of its violation of the law.
Exceptions to the 60-day WARN Act notification law do exist, for a "faltering company" or "unforeseeable business circumstances," but the report points out that these conditions must be proved by the employer, according to federal government guidelines.
The suit also says Fisker violated California labor laws by not notifying the state's Employment Development Department of the terminations, or the local workforce investment board and local elected officials.
Last month, Fisker Automotive executive chairman and co-founder, Henrik Fisker, resigned from the company following “several major disagreements” with the company’s management board.