‘Unconscionable’: Attorney preps employee class action suit against Bitwise

Employees could launch a class action suit over labor law violations by Bitwise Industries roughly one week after their surprise furlough.

A growing number of furloughed employees of Bitwise Industries are prepping to file a class action lawsuit against their could-be former employer, a Fresno attorney announced on Friday.

Roger Bonakdar, a Fresno-based attorney, announced that he began preparing a class action lawsuit on behalf of employees stemming from a string of labor law violations undertaken by the company amid its collapse.


Driving the news: Bonakdar said the suit will target, among other among other things, violation of the state’s layoff notification law, known as the WARN Act. It requires employers to provide 60 days’ notice to employees and the affected city. City officials said Bitwise notified none.

  • Bitwise Industries announced that it would be furloughing all of its employees last Monday, believed to be 300 in Fresno and reportedly 900 nationwide.
  • Bitwise Industries has face a slew of negative press regarding its finances over the last two weeks, starting with concerns over its failure to property taxes and city taxes, allegedly has not paid its rent, and is facing lawsuits from a business partner that owns a large portion of its California real estate portfolio, and has sought last-minute, high-interest loans from local lenders.
  • Problems with its payroll led to Monday’s furlough.
  • Friday, Bitwise’s board of directors announced it fired the company’s co-CEOs and co-founders, Irma Olguin Jr. and Jake Soberal.
  • Thus far, Bonakdar estimates he’s heard from more than 100 employees seeking justice.

What they’re saying: “It’s just unconscionable to me that they would make their employees their last priority,” Bonakdar said of Bitwise’s leadership.

  • “Bitwise is trying to call this a furlough … in my view, that’s entirely smoke and mirrors. This is very clearly an implosion of the company and the layoff,” he added.
  • “I’m so personally offended by what they’ve done to our town. And I’m committed to helping these families seek justice,” the attorney said.

How to get in touch: Bonakdar has set up a dedicated email for Bitwise employees to reach him and is taking statements from potential plaintiffs and gathering information. They can contact his firm at bitwise@bonakdarlawfirm.com

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