Bloomberg News

Solyndra’s Former Workers Sue Over Firing, Lack of Warning

September 06, 2011

(Updates with excerpt from complaint in third paragraph.)

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Former Solyndra LLC employees sued the bankrupt solar-panel maker, claiming it failed to give the warning required under federal law before shutting down and firing them last week.

Solyndra filed for protection from creditors today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, six days after shutting down its factory in Fremont, California, where the company is based, and firing l,100 people.

Solyndra didn’t pay the employees “their respective wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay and accrued vacation for 60 calendar days following their respective terminations and failed to make 401(k) contributions and provide them with health insurance coverage, life insurance coverage, and other employee benefits,” the workers said in a complaint filed today in Wilmington.

The company has said it couldn’t compete with foreign, government-aided manufacturers that produced an oversupply of panels at low prices and offered buyers lengthy payment terms. Demand for Solyndra’s panels also fell as European governments reduced incentives for buying solar energy, W.G. Stover, chief financial officer, said in a filing today.

The workers’ lawsuit is a so-called Warn Act complaint. Such cases are sometimes filed in bankruptcy court when a company shuts down unexpectedly and files for bankruptcy. Federal law requires companies to try to give workers 60 days written notice before closing a factory.

Sell or Liquidate

While in bankruptcy, Solyndra will try to either sell itself or liquidate and use the money to benefit creditors, the company said in court documents.

Solyndra produces cylindrical solar wafers that convert sunlight into electricity using a thin-film technology based on copper-indium-gallium-diselenide.

The company said it has borrowed $527.8 million from the U.S. Federal Financing Bank using a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantees. The money was combined with notes sold to private investors to fund construction of a new factory, which opened in January.

The workers’ case is Kohlstadt v. Solyndra LLC, 11-53155; the bankruptcy is In re Solyndra LLC 11-12799. Both are in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net


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