Tesla Sued for Sexual Orientation Harassment

Tesla Sued for Sexual Orientation Harassment

Auto-maker Tesla has been sued for sexual orientation harassment in Northern California by a former contractor at one of its facilities.  According to the lawsuit, the contractor claims he was fired from his position at Tesla after he complained to managers that he was being harassed due to his sexual orientation. The former contractor, who is gay, alleged that he was taunted by the man who trained him and subjected to abusive comments and behavior due to his sexual orientation. One such incident, described in the lawsuit, states that the contractor was told to “watch his back” by the man that trained him, and threats were made to the contractor’s personal property and well-being.

Tesla responded to the lawsuit, claiming there has never been a single case of discrimination proven against the company. The company also states that the individual who filed the lawsuit did not work for Tesla (rather for a staffing agency), and neither did the man accused of harassment. The company stressed that it was named in order to garner publicity for the lawsuit and that it did not engage in any illegal conduct.

It is important to note that this is not the first discrimination or harassment filed against Tesla, and not even the first this month.  Earlier in October, an African-American man sued Tesla for discrimination and harassment in one of its plants, alleging that he was harassed and retaliated against due to his race. 


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Statements such as Tesla’s strong denial and vow to vigorously defend itself against false lawsuits, (combined with the indication that neither of the individuals involved in the alleged sexual orientation harassment worked for the company), are a standard denial, yet paint the company’s sensitivity to discrimination and harassment in a very negative light. Focusing on the fact that no discrimination or harassment lawsuit has ever been successful against the company merely draws conclusions that the company would rather settle such lawsuits and maintain its public image than truly ensure that all individuals are provided with a working environment free from any tolerance to discrimination and harassment.  Indeed, the company’s statements read more of annoyance than of disgust for any such potential behavior on its campuses.

As you can see, the need for training in harassment and discrimination runs deeper than just the legal issues involved with such behavior. How companies respond, and the cultures they attempt to create have a significant impact on the stigma (or lack thereof) resulting from allegations of harassment or discrimination. Syntrio’s training programs focus on empathy and cultural change, and seek to prevent PR disasters like the storm circling around Tesla today.


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

Written by, Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Chief Counsel for Syntrio

 

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