Turns out it's illegal to surprise three-quarters of your workforce with pink slips on a random Friday morning. Just before the weekend, Fisker Automotive furloughed 160 employees as "a necessary strategic step to... maximize the value of Fisker's core assets," which is lingo for trying to conserve as much cash and value as possible while the financially troubled company searches for a buyer. But Fisker Automotive laid off that group of employees without giving them 60 days notice and that detail has instigated proceedings in federal court against it.

The US Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) Act mandates the 60-day notification period before mass layoffs, and according to a suit filed in US District Court in California by Outten & Golden LLP there are additional violations of California laws in the company's actions. Ex-Fisker employee Sven Etzelsberger is the named plaintiff in the case that seeks 60 days of "wages, salary, bonuses and other benefits" for Etzelsberger and other such affected employees. It isn't unusual for bankrupt companies to pay severance in order to keep this kind of thing from happening, but it seems Fisker employees were given nothing to take home but unused vacation pay, boxes of cubicle tchotchkes and white envelopes full of bumf.

The case will pit the letter of the law against the exceptions allowed for a "faltering company" and "unforseeable business circumstances." Fisker's new communications firm had no comment on the litigation.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 235 Comments
      LW
      • 1 Year Ago
      Layoff all the workers, but keep all the upper management...sounds like a typical corporate layoff to me...got to preserve that cash for their golden parachute at the end.
        360_AD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @LW
        Precisely. And the root of what is wrong with current day America. It's the robber baron days of the 20s all over again, except the methods exploitation are less blatant/obvious.
      dlubeck_mbz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seriously, it I were a Fisker employee, I would have seen the writing on the wall many months ago and would have gotten the hell out of there! We all knew things were bad a long time ago.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      ultraclen2
      • 1 Year Ago
      i lost my job in that manner and it's hard to take, the lawsuit is a farce it will close the company completely the workers won't get much but the lawyers will. it's California why would anybody start a business there? it is doom from it's inception especially now they are so far under water voyage to the bottom of the sea is their motto.
      car czar
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL if you think Fisker doesn't know what they are doing...............it's called buying time. The get rid of the workers now which stops the immediate cash flow. The case gets tangled up in a overloaded court system buying Fisker six months to a year to find a buyer. (It might even be Tesla) Then the new owners will be saddled with the bill to pay the ex employees. And one who knows if the company survives, the employee's might be asked to return to work.
        Xopher
        • 1 Year Ago
        @car czar
        Except that now they have created a wage issue through the DoL, which essentially has to be settled before the company can address other debts through bankruptcy. Further, with this on the books, any potential buyer knows that this liability exists, and will be less likely to purchase, because not only does the law allow for the employees to be paid the 60 days of pay in lieu of the notice they legally were required to receive, it also allows for extra damages, as well as the company is on the line for all legal costs incurred... which there will be a LOT of those. Then on top of that, there are the other law infractions alluded to outside of the federal WARN regulations, which add more liability to the company. Did they buy time? Probably, but they bought a hell of a lot more headaches as well.
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @car czar
        Tesla needs to stay FAR away from this. Elon wouldnt touch this with someone elses pole.
      ROLO
      • 1 Year Ago
      comon someone finds it funny that there name spells WARN lol. You are a member of warn and they didn't see all this coming.
      ironmikemiata
      • 1 Year Ago
      Business Failure # 1 The Price ! No one IS going to buy it Dummy
      BryNum
      • 1 Year Ago
      Karma is a Biach!
      Jan Calloway
      • 1 Year Ago
      Such a beautiful car made by a company that did everything wrong.
      ammca66564
      • 1 Year Ago
      Can we draw a bright line of federal loans: give away money for research, fine. But when it comes to funding production, STOP. This is not something government bureaucrats are not good at: they are pushed and pulled by multiple agendas and not burdened with fear of totally losing the investment or their jobs.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ammca66564
        Sounds good to me. Let's stop funding production of the F35 for starters.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ammca66564
        I don't believe we should subsidize or loan out for anything.. If there is a possible return in any of these green investments, private individuals and businesses will kick in some cash. So far, the track record of investments that our government has made with our money looks REAL bad. But look at a company like Tesla, who recieved a lot of money from investors - they are one of the last green companies in the last decade to survive. What's that tell you about how private investment picks the winners better than govt? What would be really helpful is if we stopped subsidizing oil. The price would rise, and demand for alternatives would drive research and sales of alternatives. Cheap gas is holding new things back, and it's only cheap because our govt looks the other way more often than not when oil companies pollute, it gives them tax breaks for exploration and equipment.. Our govt also uses your tax dollars to bring the military into countries and clear 'em out & make a safe environment for the oil industry..
          Spiffster
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          No subsidies for anything... I agree. Funny how conservatives THINK that they disagree with the pro-ev folks on this point. Cut subsidies all together and show people how much a gallon of gas really costs... People would flock to (overpriced) EVs.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Private investors make mistakes all the time. But it's their money on the line. When we're talking about government - it's the taxpayer's money on the line. Take it from a personal perspective. Would you make better investments if you were using your own money, or other people's money - people who cannot decide on whether you invest their money or not?
        no1bondfan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ammca66564
        I assume then that you are suggesting we stop all subsidies? In that case, Exxon and the rest will need to invest in their own aircraft carrier battle groups to ensure the smooth transport of oil out of the Middle East. That is the biggest federal subsidy of all, and removing it would be the best thing ever for electric cars.
      StephenT
      • 1 Year Ago
      Somebody needs to photoshop that grille from a grin into a frown.
      LilCe003
      • 1 Year Ago
      Man who is in charge at Fisker? It just seems like things are going from bad to worst. Surely their corporate lawyers should have known about this federal law. Sounds like they laid off the wrong people.
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