Business

Former Alevo employee sues company for allegedly violating layoff law

The Alevo production line is shown in this 2016 file photo. A laid-off employee from the battery maker filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court alleging the company violated a law requiring it to give workers 60 days’ notice of a downsizing.
The Alevo production line is shown in this 2016 file photo. A laid-off employee from the battery maker filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court alleging the company violated a law requiring it to give workers 60 days’ notice of a downsizing. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

A laid-off employee from battery maker Alevo filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court alleging the company violated a law requiring it to give workers 60 days’ notice of a downsizing.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, is filed on behalf of former employee Jerome Singleton and other similarly situated former workers at the company.

The U.S. arms of Alevo, the Swiss battery maker with a high-profile Russian investor, on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced layoffs for 290 workers in Concord, northeast of Charlotte.

The company arrived in Cabarrus County in 2014 with great fanfare, vowing to create hundreds of jobs through its revolutionary energy-storage technology. But production and hiring lagged those projections. The company gained attention this spring when a Russian billionaire with a connection to President Donald Trump emerged as a new investor and installed former associates at the company.

Singleton worked as a project manager until Friday at the company’s facility located at a former Philip Morris cigarette factory in Concord, the suit says. According to the complaint, he received no advanced notice of the layoff or any explanation.

The lawsuit alleges the company did not provide required notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and asks the federal bankruptcy court for “statutory remedies, as well as unpaid wages.”

Jack Raisner, an attorney for Singleton, said 20 other employees have since retained his firm because they want to participate in the suit, showing there is strong interest in the case. Alevo declined to comment.

In a statement Friday, Alevo said it had made progress with its “groundbreaking battery technology,” but production challenges left it short on financing. It had been actively seeking new funding, but it wasn’t realized in time.

According to petitions filed Friday in federal bankruptcy court in the Middle District of North Carolina, which has offices in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, Alevo USA and Alevo Manufacturing, both based in Concord, each had assets between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million.

Rick Rothacker: 704-358-5170, @rickrothacker

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