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Attorney Calls Bitwise Treatment of Employees 'Unconscionable,' Preps Lawsuit
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 10 months ago on
June 2, 2023

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Several Bitwise Industries workers furloughed on Monday are planning to sue their former employer for violating state law, their attorney says.

“It’s just unconscionable to me that they would make their employees their last priority,” attorney Roger Bonakdar said.

“I’m so personally offended by what they’ve done to our town. And I’m committed to helping these families seek justice.”  — Attorney Roger Bonakdar

He is preparing a lawsuit that could be filed next week in Fresno County Superior Court.

Bonakdar estimated more than 100 Bitwise employees reached out to him, and he is officially representing several.

The company announced it furloughed all its employees on Monday — believed to be 300 in Fresno, and reportedly 900 nationwide.

For the last two weeks, Fresno-based Bitwise suffered negative news regarding its finances — revelations they are late paying property tax and city taxes; alleged to have not paid its rent; lawsuits from a business partner; and problems with its payroll that led to Monday’s furlough.

“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,” Bonakdar said.

Employees have told Bonakdar that recent paychecks bounced.

“(Bitwise’s) conduct establishes to me total malice and indifference,” Bonakdar said.

Going to Court

Right now, Bonakdar — who is also running for Fresno City Council in 2024 — said he is taking statements from potential plaintiffs and gathering information.

Bonakdar said he will sue for, among other things, violation of the state’s layoff notification law, known as the WARN Act. It requires employees to provide 60-days notice to employees and the affected city. City and state officials said Bitwise notified no one.

“I’m so personally offended by what they’ve done to our town. And I’m committed to helping these families seek justice,” Bonakdar said.

He admits even if they win in court, “we don’t know if there’ll be something at the end of the rainbow.”

Several Bitwise employees have posted stories of hardship on social media since the furlough.

“We’re devastated by all of this,” said one furloughed employee, whose husband and mother also worked at Bitwise.

He said the last two Bitwise checks did not clear.

“We have no household income now and were furloughed w/ZERO notice,” Christopher Ramos wrote. “We can’t pay any of our bills and are left w/ out answers. Desperate times for our family right now.”

Bonakdar said he set up a dedicated email for employees to reach him at bitwise@bonakdarlawfirm.com.

Bitwise employees in Buffalo, New York, also said that they’ve had paychecks bounce and the company failed to make 401 (k) contributions.

Monica McCutcheon, a single mother of four, told wkbw.com that she is out $5,000 in pay and 401 (k) contributions.

“Now I have to apply for food stamps, because my bank account got $42,” said McCutcheon.

 

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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