Car company is sued (twice) for a hostile work environment.
“After almost three years of experiencing all the harassment, it robs your sense of security. It almost dehumanizes you,” said b, 38, a Tesla factory worker who has filed a lawsuit against her employer alleging “rampant sexual harassment” and “nightmare conditions” at the electric carmaker’s Fremont, California factory. Barraza is a production associate who works on the Tesla Model 3 and has filed a harassment lawsuit in California Superior Court in Alameda County.
Before filing, Barraza said she attempted to turn to the company’s human resources department and submitted informal complaints in September and October. However, nothing was done, and she needed to send a stronger message. She said the workplace hostility had gotten so bad over the last three years that she now lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and her anxiety has become overwhelming.
Barraza detailed in her filing that colleagues would openly describe her body as a “Coke bottle figure” and would say she had an “onion booty,” “fat ass,” and “fat ass titties.” A co-worker picked her up by her waist, “pressing against her torso under her breasts and placed her next to him.” In a separate incident, “a male co-worker stuck his leg between her thighs as she was clocking back in from lunch.”
When Barrao was allegedly propositioned by a supervisor over text messages and continually inappropriately touched while on the clock, that “was the last straw.”
The court filing callsTesla’s factory “something which more resembles a crude, archaic construction site or frat house than a cutting-edge company in the heart of the progressive San Francisco Bay area. Workplace culture at Tesla is influenced from the very top.” Th suit details how a CEO Elon Musk once tweeted he would create a new university and naming it Texas Institute of Technology & Science (TITS), jokingly.
“That doesn’t set a good example for the factory. It almost gives it like an ‘he’s tweeting about it, it has to be okay,’” Barraza said. “It’s not fair to myself, to my family, to other women who are working there.”
The carmaker typically requires that its employees sign arbitration agreements, meaning that any disputes that arise (such as Barraza’s) would have to be handled out of court. Generally, these agreements show favoritism toward the company and its attorneys who draft them. Barraza’s attorneys, however, believe that Tesla’s agreements are “illegal and unenforceable.” They’re pursuing the litigation in despite of the contracts.
In a lawsuit similar to Barraza’s, Tesla was ordered to pay nearly $137 million to Owen Diaz, a worker that was also subjected to racial harassment at the Fremont factory. As a contractor, Diaz did not have to sign an arbitration agreement, and took the case to court. The outcome of the case supports the most recent claims.
After the win, Telsa responded by indicating that it felt that “the facts presented to the jury were wrong….While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect.”