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Silicon Valley Startup Firings Over Virus Face Early Court Test

Bloomberg - Robert Burnson

Velodyne Lidar Inc., which designs the sensor systems that help driverless cars navigate, was sued for laying off 140 workers with one day’s notice, an early test of whether courts will get involved as the coronavirus wipes out jobs in Silicon Valley.

The San Jose, California-based company -- identified by Uber Technologies Inc. two years ago as its primary supplier of lidar, or light detection and ranging -- is accused of using the virus as an excuse to downsize when it was actually preparing to move production overseas.

The cuts at Velodyne were among more than 5,000 firings of startup employees by the end of March, according to Layoffs.fyi, a project dedicated to chronicling the virus’s spiraling impact on the tech industry.

Under law, Velodyne should have provided the fired workers 60 days’ notice, according to the complaint filed Friday in federal court in San Jose.

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