Tesla Inc.’s factory in Fremont, Calif., is more like a crude frat house than a facility owned by a cutting-edge company in the heart of a progressive region, six women who are current and former employees claimed in the latest barrage of lawsuits to hit Tesla over alleged sexual harassment.
“Although Tesla publicly claims that it fosters a safe and respectful environment for its workers, the truth is that for years Tesla has subjected women working in its Fremont factory facilities to nightmarish conditions of rampant sexual harassment,” according to the opening paragraph in each of the complaints filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court.
Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The complaints detail harassment from male colleagues and supervisors as well as a lack of response from Tesla when the claims were reported internally. Five of the six women who sued worked in Fremont; one was in southern California.
Roughly 10,000 people work at the Fremont plant, where Tesla makes the electric Model S, X, 3 and Y. The factory has long been the subject of complaints about racial and sexual harassment. Many complaints never make it to court because Tesla’s full time employees sign agreements requiring workplace disputes to be handled in closed-door arbitration -- which itself has drawn fire from Tesla investors.
In May, a Black former employee won a rare $1 million discrimination award in arbitration over the company’s failure to stop his supervisors from calling him the “N-word.” More recently, a federal jury in San Francisco weighed similar allegations by a former contract worker who was an elevator operator at the Fremont plant and awarded him $137 million, believed to be one of the largest-ever verdicts in a racial discrimination case by a single plaintiff.
Tesla is challenging the verdict as “without precedent” and said in a court filing it “bears no relationship to the actual evidence at trial.”
“Tesla has failed to take sexual harassment seriously, from the top of the company down,” David Lowe, a partner at San Francisco law firm Rudy Exelrod Zieff & Lowe, said in a statement. Lowe also represents Jessica Barraza, who filed a suit last month over “rampant” harassment at the Fremont facility.
The six complaints were reported earlier by the Washington Post.