Former Tesla employees suing company for ‘mass layoffs’ without giving notice

Two former Tesla employees filed a class-action lawsuit this week against Tesla, accusing the electric automaker company of violating federal law after they say executives recently approved “mass layoffs” without giving proper notice.

The 10-page complaint, filed by John Lynch and Daxton Hartsfield in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas on Sunday, alleges Tesla violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988, which requires 60 days written notice before a mass layoff.

“Instead, Tesla has simply notified the employees that their terminations would be effective immediately,” the complaint reads. “Tesla has also failed to provide a statement of the basis for reducing the notification period to zero days advance notice.”

The Hill has reached out to Tesla for comment.

In a June 2 email reviewed by Reuters, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and needed to cut 10 percent of the company’s workforce and pause hiring. Tesla has about 100,000 employees worldwide.

Musk then appeared to contradict that number in a tweet following the Reuters report.

“Total headcount will increase, but salaried should be fairly flat,” he wrote in a tweet on June 4, responding to a post about Tesla’s workforce.

On Tuesday, CNBC obtained another email in which Musk clarified he was cutting 3.5 percent of the entire workforce, with 10 percent of the company’s salaried employees being laid off and the number of hourly employees increasing. He said that overall percentage was “not super material,” and added that in a year, “our head count will be higher in both salaried and obviously in hourly.”

Musk also dismissed the lawsuit as “of minor consequence.”

“Anything that relates to Tesla gets big headlines, whether it is a bicycle accident or something much more serious,” he wrote, according to CNBC.

Both Lynch and Hartsfield had worked at a gigafactory plant in Sparks, Nev., and were terminated on June 10 and June 15, respectively. The lawsuit says more than 500 employees were fired at the gigafactory this month and thousands have been laid off across the U.S.

The former employees said in the complaint that they were suing for wrongful termination on behalf of all employees included in the layoff, who suffered a “devastating economic impact.”

The former Tesla workers are seeking compensation equal to the WARN Act, which stipulates that employers compensate former employees with back pay and benefits if they are found to be in violation.

Tesla could also face up to a $500 civil fine for each day of violation.

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