A former Solyndra employee has filed a class-action complaint against the shuttered solar manufacturer, claiming the company failed to comply with labor laws by not providing advance notice that it would be ceasing operations.
Peter Kohlstadt, listed in the legal action as an engineer who lost his job when Solyndra closed its doors Wednesday, lodged the class action at the U.S. District Court of Northern California on Friday night.
The lawsuit demands that Solyndra pay laid-off employees 60 days of wages and benefits, attorneys said Tuesday. With some exceptions, state and federal laws oblige a company to file 60 days notice of the elimination of 50 or more employees or of the shutdown of a facility.
On Tuesday, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, stating it had about $784 million in debts and $859 million in assets.
The high-profile implosion of Solyndra has sparked debates on multiple fronts. The overall health of the solar energy industry in the United States is in question. Additionally, congressional critics have begun to scrutinize the federal government's selection of Solyndra for more than half a billion dollars in loan guarantees from the federal government.
President Barack Obama, during a May 2010 visit to Solyndra's Fremont complex, touted the company as a shining example of how clean energy could evolve into a major part of the nation's energy future.
Other Solyndra employees who lost their jobs criticized Solyndra's swift dismissal of its workforce.
"It was devastating. There was no warning at all," said Matthew Henry, a Campbell resident who had worked for Solyndra for three years. "It was completely unexpected for myself and the other employees."
Henry, who worked in order fulfillment for Solyndra, had just bought a new vehicle and signed a lease for a new apartment just before the layoffs.
"We knew that things were tough for Solyndra," said Lindsey Eastburn, an engineer for the company who lives in Pleasanton. "But it still came as a shock."
The day after Eastburn lost his job, he landed another job with San Jose-based Applied Microstructures.
"I was fortunate," Eastburn said. "But a lot of people who were employed in production may have a harder time finding a job."
Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.