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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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