Tesla Sued For Sexual Discrimination By Former Retail Workers

Another day, another lawsuit for Tesla, another set of bizarre tweets from Elon Musk.

According to Bloomberg, three former retail employees of SolarCity, the solar-panel installer acquired by Tesla in November 2016 under controversial circumstances (and allegations of less than arms-length dealings between related parties), have sued the company, alleging that managers discriminated against them on the basis of age or sexual orientation, resulting in their termination in 2017, according to a lawsuit filed in a San Diego state court (Staples v. Solar City, 37-2018-37100, California Superior Court, San Diego County).

Some details from the lawsuit:

  • One plaintiff said he complained to management, including Musk, about harassment related to his sexual orientation. He was subsequently fired on May 31, 2017
  • A 59-year-old plaintiff is suing after being fired and then replaced by a “significantly younger individual that was less than 30-years-old”
  • The lawsuit also claims that SolarCity created “fake potential sales accounts” used to “support unjustified sales bonuses” and an “unreasonably high valuation of SolarCity”
  • The complaint alleges the employees are owed back pay and benefits

This is not the first time Tesla has been accused of sexual discrimination or harassment:

Last year, Tesla fired the woman who sued the company for ignoring her complaints over alleged sexual harassment. Engineer AJ Vandermeyden spoke publicly about her 2016 lawsuit against Tesla earlier in the year year, saying “until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change.”

In an interview with the Guardian in February, Vandermeyden said there was “pervasive harassment” at Tesla, including catcalls on the factory floor.

She also said the company retaliated against her when she raised concerns about cars being sold in “a defective state.” In addition, she claimed that she was paid less than men for doing the same work at the company.

Tesla said then that it found Vandermeyden’s complaints were unsubstantiated.

Subsequently Tesla told SiliconBeat that it has fired Vandermeyden, saying it did so after an internal investigation as well as after “retaining a neutral, third-party expert to conduct an independent investigation of Ms. Vandermeyden’s claims.”

Tesla has been accused of various other employee-related woes, including an effort to unionize its workers, while a stuidy released in May 2017 showed that the company’s recorded safety incidents in 2015 were 31 percent higher than average for the auto industry. That followed a recent Guardian report that ambulances had been called to Tesla’s Fremont factory more than 100 times since 2014.