Tesla lawsuit alleges unlawful layoffs at Nevada gigafactory

It's the second time a Musk-owned company has been accused of WARN Act violations

Tesla is facing another lawsuit, and it's treading over old territory with this one. Fired Gigafactory workers are alleging that the electric car maker improperly terminated more than 500 people.

The proposed class action suit, filed on Sunday, stems from an email owner Elon Musk sent to Tesla leaders in early June – no, not the one where the billionaire said Tesla's workforce needed to be reduced by 10 percent.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], filed by two former employees at Musk's Nevada battery plant, Tesla moved far faster than it was legally allowed to when it fired employees at the gigafactory in the city of Sparks, NV. 

The law in question is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires employers to give 60 days' notice of a planned plant closure or layoffs involving more than 50 people let go within 30 days. Tesla reportedly has around 100,000 employees.

Tesla's familiarity with the WARN Act is less direct than Musk's – it is the second time a company he owns has been sued for violating it, with former SpaceX employees claiming the rocket company unlawfully terminated staff in 2014. The lawsuit was one of several rolled into a 2017 settlement that awarded $3.9 million to class members.

The Nevada lawsuit claims:

Tesla has failed to give Plaintiffs and the Class Members any advance written notice of their terminations. Instead, Tesla has simply notified the employees that their terminations would be effective immediately.

It also claims Tesla did not provide a statement to justify the immediate firings.

The sueball was filed by two named plaintiffs terminated from the Sparks factory who allege they were terminated on June 10 and 15, in the hopes of defining a broader class of "all former Tesla employees throughout the United States who have not been given a minimum of sixty days written notice of termination and whose employment has been terminated as a result of a 'mass layoff' or 'plant closing.'"

As recompense, the suit is asking for 60 days of pay and benefits for all wrongfully terminated employees.

The suit alleges that thousands of employees were improperly terminated this way, and states that more than 500 employees were terminated from the Sparks gigafactory.

Tesla has made similar headcount-reducing decisions in the past. In 2018 Musk sent an email to Tesla employees saying 9 percent of its workforce would be cut. ®

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