TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - At least two Bay Area-based workers have filed class-action lawsuits Monday against Laser Spine Institute after they lost their jobs in a sudden mass layoff and closing of the business last week.
The Tampa location was among four locations nationwide to abruptly shut down Friday, giving no notice to about 500 employees.
Monday, some delivery companies didn’t get the memo either.
The lawsuits filed in federal court against Laser Spine Institute allege workers did not get enough notice before the mass layoff. Tampa labor attorney Matt Fenton said the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, requires companies to provide a 60-day notice.
“Our firm today filed a lawsuit on behalf of a terminated Laser Spine employee under the WARN act,” said Fenton, a partner at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa Law. “That's the very purpose of the act is to prevent things like this from occurring and let employees take some anticipatory action to protect themselves in these circumstances.”
One former employee received a WARN Act notice and shared it with FOX 13. It was dated March 4, even though all Laser Spine Institute facilities closed Friday, March 1. The letter said issuing notice at an earlier date would have undermined financing efforts underway.
The company's CEO said in a statement that Laser Spine Institute was not able to get “necessary financing to undertake a Chapter 11 process” and operate via bankruptcy.
“It surprises me that a company of sufficient sophistication and experience... would not jump through the basic hoops that the law requires to give notice to their employees,” said Fenton.
The lawsuit asks for 60 days’ worth of pay for laid-off employees, which is what they would have received if they had a 60-day notice.
FOX 13 saw some people walking out of the building Monday, but they would not answer questions about what employees can do if they still have belongings in the building.
As for the building itself, the developer that owns it, Highwoods Properties sent FOX 13 the following statement:
“As a result of Laser Spine Institute’s sudden closure, the Company expects to write-off accounts and notes receivable, lease incentives and straight-line rents receivable associated with the building, which aggregated $11.8 million at December 31, 2018 and approximately $12.2 million at March 1, 2019, including non-cash items of approximately $6.8 million as of both dates. The March 1, 2019 balance will be written-off in the first quarter of 2019.”