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Fisker Automotive sued for lack of notice in layoffs

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(Read caption) The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan logo is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York. A lawsuit is the latest in a litany of problems and failures for Fisker Automotive.

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Fisker Automotive's problems deepen further with the news that the electric car startup is now facing a lawsuit for the dismissal of 160 of its employees.

Fisker, makers of the range-extended electric Karma, laid off around three quarters of its workforce on Friday as it struggles to avoid bankruptcy.

Law firm Outten & Golden LLP filed the suit, reports Automotive News(subscription required), which states that Fisker failed to comply with both federal and local standards for the termination of employees.

As part of the U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), companies must give at least 60 days noticed before mass terminations, a condition Fisker has not met. 

Outten & Golden was previously responsible for a successful $3.5 million settlement against Solyndra, the government-backed solar panel company that went bankrupt last year.

It isn't clear how much Fisker's employees are entitled to in damages, though the suit also seeks compensation equal to the wages, salary, bonuses and benefits each employee should have received given suitable 60-day notice.

The law does grant exceptions from the 60-day rule for "faltering companies" and through "unforseeable business circumstances", though Fisker will have to prove it can meet either or both of these criteria if it's to avoid losing the case in court.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, is the latest in a litany of problems and failures for Fisker, following vehicle fires, poor reviews, the destruction of over 300 Karma sedans at a Hurricane Sandy-ravaged port, an insurance company's refusal to pay out for the damaged cars, the departure of Henrik Fisker from the helm and finally Friday's dismissals.

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Even if Fisker survives its latest challenge, the outlook appears bleak for its survival over the coming months.


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