This story contains mention of and details regarding sexual harassment.
Six factory and service employees at Tesla's Fremont, California factory and other locations filed suits against the company on Tuesday alleging similar experiences of being sexually harassed and then sometimes facing retaliation from managers after reporting the incidences. This follows on the heels of a seventh woman who filed a similar suit in November.
The six separate suits, filed in Alameda County Superior Court by attorney David Lowe, a partner at Rudy Exelrod Zieff and Lowe LLP, all described similar alleged experiences of working in a culture that normalized men staring at women's bodies and saying crude and inappropriate things about their appearance. The suits also attempt to draw a link between CEO Elon Musk's crude jokes about sex and anthropomorphizing cars and rockets and the harassment women experienced on the job.
Both Tesla and SpaceX have come under increasing fire from former and current workers who say the companies' hard-charging cultures ignore and foster sexual and racial harassment and discrimination, and many of the workers who have filed complaints also blame Musk for contributing to the cultural problems.
The seven sexual harassment suits follow at least four other legal complaints against Tesla's Fremont factory for fostering a culture that permitted racial harassment and discrimination. Former Tesla elevator operator Owen Diaz recently won a sweeping victory in one of those complaints, winning a $137 million award from a jury in October. Another suit seeking class action status for people who have experienced racial harassment and discrimination won a partial victory earlier this year, preventing Tesla from dismissing the case. In addition, public records obtained by Protocol show that more than 100 workers have been granted the right to sue the company from 2018 to mid-2021. A former SpaceX employee shared stories of similar experiences of alleged harassment in an essay Tuesday, and she also blamed Musk for fostering a culture that permitted the behavior.
“What we’re addressing for each of the lawsuits is just a shocking pattern of rampant harassment that exists at Tesla,” Lowe told the Washington Post. “It is pervasive throughout the workplace and now we know it’s not just the factory floor in Fremont but other locations, including the sales centers.”
If you or a loved one needs help:
Call RAINN's sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673, 24 hours a day.