Tesla asked a U.S. Court on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the automaker that claims the company violated federal law by reducing its employee headcount without first warning employees by giving them advance notice.
In a filing in federal court in Austin, Texas, Tesla said the workers who were let go or laid off from their positions signed agreements prior to their employment that would require them to refrain from class-action lawsuits. The agreements also required workers to bring employment-related legal disputes to arbitration, Reuters reported.
The lawsuit was filed in mid-June.
Tesla argues that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the company was “right-sizing” by eliminating workers who were not accomplishing their job tasks. Additionally, Tesla argued that the layoffs did not require advanced notice.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated recently that the company would decrease its salaried employee headcount by roughly 10 percent, which would equate to a 3 percent reduction in headcount company-wide. The company started notifying the affected employees in May and June, and the layoffs have continued well into July. Most recently, Tesla closed its Autopilot office in San Mateo, California, eliminating over 200 jobs. The remaining employees would be transferred to the company’s Buffalo, New York, Autopilot office.
The lawsuit in question was filed by two former employees who accused the company of violating the law by suddenly relieving over 500 people from their jobs in Sparks, Nevada. The former employees also are seeking class-action status for any Tesla employee in the U.S. that was laid off in May or June without notice. Last week, the plaintiffs also submitted a motion to stop Tesla from asking workers to sign severance agreements that would exchange between one or two weeks of pay for their ability to file a lawsuit against the company.
In the filing on Thursday, Tesla stated that workers who are going to be terminated are regularly asked to sign these waivers. It also stated the agreements are signed and proper because they were not given after the lawsuit was filed. According to the report, some courts have said that waivers signed while a lawsuit is pending would make them invalid.
The case is labeled as Lynch v. Tesla Inc, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 1:22-cv-00597.
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