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Velodyne Lidar accused of using pandemic as excuse for big job cuts

Silicon Valley Business Journal - Cromwell Schubarth

Velodyne Lidar Inc. was accused in a lawsuit filed Friday of cutting 140 jobs improperly with only one day's notice and using the COVID-19 pandemic as cover for shifting jobs overseas.

The lawsuit filed in federal court says the San Jose-based autonomous driving sensor pioneer should have given workers 60-day notice, according to Bloomberg.

Velodyne said in a written notice that the job cuts were due to the pandemic, according to the lawsuit, but it “had already begun transferring production jobs overseas beginning in the summer of 2019 and had planned to continue doing so prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

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The company in mid-March said that it had closed its Bay Area operations, where it employed about 500, in accordance with shelter-in-place orders. It said at the time that it would "remain operational as we assess and meet customer needs by utilizing manufacturing centers globally that are currently open."

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Velodyne's founder and its chairman, David Hall, is credited with inventing the way that lidar, a laser sensor technology that was originally developed for satellites around 1961, could be used to help guide self-driving vehicles. He and his brother Bruce developed a multi-sensor roof-mounted system that was used to win a driverless car race sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2007.

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