Former Tesla workers have filed a lawsuit in Texas, claiming that the electric car company carried out a “mass layoff” that violated federal law because the group gave no advance warning that their jobs could be terminated.
The lawsuit was filed late on Sunday by two workers who said they were sacked from Tesla‘s gigafactory plant in Sparks, Nevada in June – along with more than 500 other employees at the factory.
The workers allege the company failed to adhere to federal laws on mass layoffs that require a 60-day notification period under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, according to the lawsuit.
They are seeking class action status for all former Tesla employees throughout the United States who were laid off in May or June without advance notice.
“Tesla has simply notified the employees that their terminations would be effective immediately,” the complaint said.
Tesla, which has not commented on numbers of layoffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit.
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‘Woke Mind Virus’
Meanwhile, a report on Monday said that key figures in the company’s diversity and inclusivity programmes, including the president of its LGBTQ+ community, were among the employees sacked by Tesla.
The sacking of the two individuals came “amid several comments Tesla CEO Elon Musk made, concerning what he describes as the ‘woke mind virus’,” Electrek reported.
“Woke” is a term that describes people who are alert to racial prejudice, discrimination and injustice in society.
Musk is no fan of such people. On May 20, he said on Twitter: “Unless it is stopped, the woke mind virus will destroy civilization and humanity will never reached Mars.”
Unless it is stopped, the woke mind virus will destroy civilization and humanity will never reached Mars
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 19, 2022
‘Super Bad Feeling’
Earlier this month, Musk – the world’s richest person – said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and that Tesla needed to cut staff by about 10%, according to an email seen by Reuters. A court may now have to determine if Musk’s tweet could be considered ‘advance warning’ that they may lose their jobs.
More than 20 people identifying themselves as Tesla employees have said they were laid off, let go or had positions terminated this month, according to online postings and interviews.
The action filed in Texas by John Lynch and Daxton Hartsfield, who were fired on June 10 and June 15 respectively, seeks pay and benefits for the 60-day notification period.
“It’s pretty shocking that Tesla would just blatantly violate federal labour law by laying off so many workers without providing the required notice,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney representing the workers said.
She said Tesla is offering some employees only one week of severance, adding that she is preparing an emergency motion with a court to try to block Tesla from trying to get releases from employees in exchange for just one week of severance.
The suit was filed in the US District Court in the Western District of Texas.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
Note: This report was updated with further information on June 21, 2022.
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