Two former Tesla employees have filed a lawsuit alleging the company violated federal law for failing to give 60 days’ notice for a mass layoff.
The lawsuit, filed Sunday, follows news that Tesla plans to lay off hourly workers after Tesla chief executive Elon Musk initially stated that hourly workers would likely not be affected by the layoffs.
The lawsuit was filed by John Lynch and Daxton Hartsfield, who both worked at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, when the layoffs began in early June. The two former employees claim they were among “more than 500” Gigafactory employees who have been laid off.
According to Lynch and Hartsfield, the mass layoff violates the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires employers to give employees at least 60 calendar days notice before closing a facility or 50 or more employees of the same dismiss location. †
“Tesla did not provide the plaintiffs and the class members with prior written notice of their termination,” the lawsuit reads. “Instead, Tesla simply notified employees that their termination would be effective immediately. Tesla has also made no statement about the basis for shortening the notification period to zero days in advance.”
The former employees demand 60 days’ wages and benefits. They are also seeking class action status for their lawsuits for those terminated in May and June without the legally required notice.
This followed a company-wide email from Musk containing a global workforce freeze and a plan to cut the company’s workforce by about 10 percent. In the email, Musk said the layoffs were because he had “a really bad feeling” about the US economy.
Initially, it looked like Tesla’s hourly workers would be spared the layoffs. The company-wide email, sent on June 3, said that “Tesla will reduce its salaried workforce by 10% as we have become overstaffed in many areas.”
A day later, Musk tweeted that “total workforce will increase, but pay should be fairly stable,” in response to a statement about Tesla’s workforce over the next 12 months. Reports that the layoffs would also include hourly workers began trickling out over the weekend.
This is the second time a Musk company may have violated US labor laws. Last week, SpaceX fired a group of employees involved in writing an open letter criticizing Musk’s behavior. The layoffs may violate federal law protecting workers’ opinions regarding working conditions, several labor attorneys told The edge†