CLEARWATER — Troubled private plane provider Avantair has been hit with another class-action lawsuit, this one filed in federal court on behalf of recently furloughed employees.
A member of the company's board of directors also resigned, and the company recently announced to its customers that it is working on a new business model, seeking relief from its vendors and looking for new sources of funding to get its fleet of private planes flying again.
The federal lawsuit, filed Friday by Clearwater attorney Ryan Barack, alleges that the company's decision last week to furlough around 500 pilots and other employees violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
Also known as the WARN Act, it requires employees be given 60 days advance notice prior to mass layoffs. Barack characterized the company's second furloughs in eight months as layoffs, and said around two dozen employees have already joined the suit.
"If you stop paying someone," Barack said. "That's a layoff."
The lawsuit also seeks lost wages after the company announced last week it would not pay for time worked since June 8. And the lawsuit said the company's officers can be held personally liable for violations of minimum wage and overtime laws.
On Thursday, Stephanie Cuskley told Avantair's board of directors that she was stepping down from the board due to "personal reasons." On Friday, the company released a statement saying that Avantair's "must restructure its affairs to emerge healthy and able to resume profitable operations." The company is already facing a class-action lawsuit filed in Oklahoma for loss of air service that could be joined by hundreds of other customers.