Level Solar employees strike back, alleging no WARN-ing in lawsuit

Level Solar tried to slip silently out of existence last week without anyone noticing. Well, the employees noticed – and they have filed a class-action suit against the company, saying it violated the provisions of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act).

The federal law requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide 60 calendar-day advance notification of plant closings and mass layoffs, as defined in the Act. According to court documents filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Level Solar had approximately 200 employees at the time it closed its doors suddenly last week.

Reports of the company’s demise leaked last Wednesday, when chatter from employees on LinkedIn and Glassdoor suggested everyone from the company had been let go without warning and that it had allegedly “forgotten” to pay their worker’s compensation insurance, leading to a suspension of all employees. As pv magazine’s Christian Roselund wrote when he broke the story:

And just like that, they were gone. As of [Sept. 20], Level Solar’s website is offline, their phone has an out-of-hours message in the middle of the day, and former employees are stating that everyone has been let go.

In the lawsuit, the employees are trying to recover up to 60 days wages and benefits from the now defunct company, saying Level Solar didn’t provide employees with at least 90 days advance notice of the firings as is required by New York’s own WARN Act, which extends the required notification period 30 days beyond the federal requirement.

The 200 employees were spread across seven facilities throughout New York County and didn’t know they had been let go until they arrived at their jobs last Tuesday, according to the lawsuit.
Injured employees are asking specifically for the following:
  • A judgment in favor of Plaintiff and each of the “affected employees” equal to the sum of: their unpaid wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, accrued holiday pay, accrued vacation pay, pension and 401(k) contributions and other ERISA benefits, for 60 days, that would have been covered and paid under the then-applicable employee benefit plans had that coverage continued for that period, all determined in accordance with the NY WARN Act, NYLL § 860-G(7).
  • Interest as allowed by law on the amounts owed.

No specific dollar amount is listed in the lawsuit, and because Level Solar is a private company, there is no publicly available information on how much it was paying its employees at the time it disappeared.

Level Solar isn’t the only solar company who “forgot” to inform its employees of their impending unemployment this year:

Former Sungevity employees file class action lawsuit

Suniva violated WARN Act provisions in layoffs, employees say