Poor Elon Musk really, really can't catch a break. Just over the past couple of weeks he's been forced to push back his Model 3 delivery schedule due to some "production hell" issues (like not knowing how to weld...a fairly critical component of auto manufacturing), got one-upped by Daimler who beat him to the punch by revealing an all electric semi-truck earlier today (several weeks ahead of Elon), was sued by former employees who alleged a "hostile and racist work environment" in his Fremont plant...and the list goes on and on.
Now, according to a report from CNBC, Tesla's mass firings have spread to SolarCity, a company which Musk just purchased last year despite warnings from concerned shareholders that it would be nothing more than a distraction. While it's unclear how many people have been fired from each division, former employees estimate that some 1,200 people have been let go in total between the various Tesla entities.
Employee dismissals at Tesla are continuing, according to six former and current employees, and have spread from its motor division to SolarCity offices across the U.S.
Echoing reports from earlier this month, these SolarCity employees say they were surprised to be told they were fired for performance reasons, claiming Tesla had not conducted performance reviews since acquiring the solar energy business.
All the people spoke under condition of anonymity, citing fears of retaliation from Tesla.
Tesla had already announced plans to lay off 205 SolarCity employees at its Roseville, California, office by the end of October this year. However, SolarCity employees across the country have been fired in the last two weeks — not just in California, but also in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and beyond, according to these employees.
Two former employees told CNBC that the Roseville office was being completely shut down. A Tesla spokesperson said the office will remain open with about 50 full-time employees.
The total number of dismissals could not be determined. However, former employees estimate around 1,200 people have been fired in the company's wave of dismissals at Tesla including SolarCity. That figure does not include previously announced layoffs.
When asked about the mass firings, Tesla once again reiterated their stance that the 1,200 people in question were being terminated as the result of "performance reviews"...
"Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period. This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world."
...which is odd because SolarCity employees, much like those working at the Tesla plant in Fremont, say they were never given performance reviews.
SolarCity employees (like other Tesla employees) then received separation agreements via email. The documents cited "failure to meet performance expectations" as the reason for their terminations, according to excerpts of the documents shared with CNBC by multiple parties.
The former SolarCity employees all said performance reviews had not been conducted since Tesla acquired the clean energy business for $2.6 billion in November 2016.
Three recently fired SolarCity employees (who worked in disparate city offices, and were contacted separately by CNBC) said they asked HR at Tesla for a copy of their performance reviews. But those never materialized.
In some cases, HR never acknowledged their requests but went ahead and sent them separation agreements. These agreements force ex-employees of Tesla into arbitration if they want severance pay. In other words, they have to sign away the rights to sue the company for two weeks' worth of salary.
Meanwhile, these angry, laid-off employees don't seem to be buying it.
But it's ok, they can presumably all re-apply for their positions once Tesla opens it's new manufacturing facility in China...though it will require a fairly long-distance move and a rather sizeable pay cut.