Many only know Tesla as a company who has goals of changing the world, but more and more are rethinking their opinion of the company as news headlines point out another major component in the Tesla workplace: harassment. The company proudly claims to be forward thinking on environmental matters, dedicated to diversity and center-left politics, and the many ways in which advanced technology can support progress in all these areas of concern. But many are now labeling the company as being caught up in the “bro” culture – a culture that can still be found in many offices throughout California. Other companies experiencing similar accusations include: Uber, Google, Social Finance, Greylock Partners, etc. Major news outlets like Bloomberg and CNBC have actually implied that the problem is worse than we think.
The latest case at Tesla involves Jorge Ferro, an assembly line worker who claims he was harassed because he is gay. He claims he was taunted, told to “watch your back,” and eventually fired. Ferro states that an old scar (from a 16-year old injury) drew the notice of Tesla Human Resources, who promptly dismissed him. But Ferro alleges he was actually fired due to retaliation for reporting the harassment.
When contacted about the issue, Tesla first attempted to side step the issue by claiming that both Ferro and his supervisor were not employees, but independent contractors. They also insisted that Tesla, as a company, takes all forms of discrimination and harassment very seriously. In fact, the Guardian reported that the company responded in even further detail by referencing their own track record, “…no company on Earth [has] a better track record than Tesla…they would have to have fewer than zero cases where an independent judge or jury…found a genuine case of discrimination.”
While Tesla insists that the recent influx of harassment and discrimination claims are due to their own notoriety and the opportunity this presents for media outlets and attorneys seeking acclaim and higher profiles, there have been other accusations of similar behavior in the last few years.
Just a week before Ferro’s claim surfaced, three former African-American workers filed a California lawsuit that they were subjected to verbal and written racist slurs.
Another instance involved a former Tesla engineer who claimed she was fired because she presented examples of gender discrimination at the company to the human resources department.
If you need to discuss instances of discrimination in the workplace or have questions regarding harassment on the job, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.