Fisker gets a federal lawsuit after laying off 75% of its workers

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 9, 2013

A federal lawsuit was filed against Fisker Automotive in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., just a few hours after it laid off around 75% of its workers. Fisker is being accused of violating a law that says that employers have to give advance notice to workers of mass layoffs. Last Friday, Fisker dismissed 160 of its approximately 210 workers.

Fisker, a producer of luxury plug-in hybrids, has been struggling financially. On Friday at around 8:30 in the morning, many Fisker workers were seen starting to leave headquarters in Anaheim, Calif.

Several were bringing boxes with them while some were seen carrying big white envelopes. When interviewed by Automotive News, several former Fisker workers said that they didn’t get severance pay and that they only received compensation for unused vacation days.

The suit cited the U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, known as the WARN Act, which says that Fisker didn’t inform the affected employees of their dismissal at least 60 days ahead of time.

Furthermore, the suit also mentioned that Fisker failed to pay wages and other benefits that the workers would have gotten in the 60 days after the layoffs. The plaintiffs charged that Fisker breached rules established by both the federal WARN Act, and California's WARN Act. Law firm Outten & Golden LLP filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiff Sven Etzelsberger, a former Fisker employee, together with "other similarly situated former employees."

The suit is seeking class action status. Reuters reported in August that Outten & Golden received a $3.5 million settlement in a similar suit that was filed against Solyndra, the government-funded solar panel manufacturer that fell into bankruptcy in 2012. The suit also alleges that Fisker violated California labor laws by not informing the state's Employment Development Department, the local workforce investment board, and the top elected officials in both Anaheim and Orange County about the mass layoffs.

Fisker Automotive is a relatively new player in the automotive industry and the Karma is its first car. The company has adopted the Sustainable and Accountable Design principle, which represents a significant leap forward for the whole car manufacturing industry.

Despite being new to the car-making industry, Fisker already sees that the process of designing, developing, producing, marketing, and disposing vehicles requires extensive energy and resources. Yet the California-based company has seen the opportunity to improve and better this process and has envisioned what more carmakers can do and what more consumers can expect from them. Fisker strives to take the lead in sustainability and accountability by persistently pursuing ways to reduce carbon footprint and other environmental impact and to raise fuel efficiency across the value chain.

The Karma and all of the company’s vehicles in the future will be marketed and serviced through a network of established, credible and independent retailers worldwide. In the U.S. alone, there are already 45 locations identified, and around the same number is planned for the European market.

While the company's Europe retail network is still being developed, it’s already definite that it will be managed by reputable importers that include Nellemann in Denmark, Fisker Italia in Italy, BD Otomotive in Turkey, and the Emil Frey Group in Switzerland. Moreover, in December 2010 in Shanghai, Fisker has entered into a non-exclusive distribution contract with China Grand Automotive.

The Fisker Karma is the first all-American luxury vehicle developed to carry an international appeal. It’s also the world’s only luxury sedan that is able to meet future emission needs as well as fuel consumption requirements, thereby making it suitable and just right for any international city.

The company plans to come up with other variants of the Fisker Karma, including a convertible. Fisker is also getting ready to build a second less expensive model series in a 3.2 million-square-foot refitted assembly facility in Wilmington, Delaware.

Fisker’s Uncompromised Responsible Luxury approach goes beyond merely lessening tailpipe emissions and fuel consumption. It also makes use of repurposed and renewable materials and the available lowest-impact technologies in every step of process – from designing and the engineering, to building and marketing. One example is the Karma’s three types of interior wood trims for you to choose from, all of which are from timber reclaimed from California windstorms and forest fires and from Michigan’s raised off lake bottoms. Fisker guarantees that it has not harvested any live growth for its cars’ wood trimmings. There’s also the car’s Bridge of Weir Low Carbon Leather trim for its interior. This leather is a product of a low-impact process that’s done at Fisker’s energy self-sustaining facility.

Topics: fisker, lawsuit

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