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Deja vu: Fisker hit with lawsuit over layoffs by firm that represented Solyndra

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

Fisker Automotive, the hybrid auto maker that laid off 75 percent of its workforce on Friday, faces a lawsuit by former employees accusing the company of violating state and federal WARN Act, which requires companies to give advanced notice of mass layoffs.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Friday by Outten & Golden, which also represented Solyndra employees. The suit seeks 60 days’ wages and benefits for the employees, according to Reuters.

“We contend Fisker ordered mass layoffs on or about April 5, 2013 without providing its employees with advance written notice,” the company said in a statement.

Jack Raisner, an attorney for the former employees, told Reuters that Friday’s layoff is a “harbinger” of bankruptcy.

Raisner also represented employees of Solyndra who were laid off shortly before the failed solar company filed for bankruptcy in 2011.  He said Fisker’s situation is strikingly similar to Solyndra’s was then.

“It feels like almost déjà vu,” he told Reuters.

Outten & Golden won a $3.5 million settlement in a similar case against Solyndra.

The WARN Act requires 60 days notice of layoffs affecting 100 or more employees. Fisker laid off about 160 employees. An employer may be exempt if it can prove “unforeseeable business circumstance,” or that the notification would have affected its ability to secure capital to stay in business, under what’s known as a “faltering business” exemption.

The auto maker’s public relations team was part of the layoffs, but an outside PR firm said in a statement on Friday Fisker is still seeking a “buyer or strategic partnership,” according to Fox News.

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