Six women filed lawsuits Tuesday alleging Tesla allowed “nightmarish conditions of rampant sexual harassment” at its electric car manufacturing and service facilities in California.
The allegations followed a day after Tesla CEO Elon Musk was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted that it was time to “change the rigged tax code” so Musk “will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.”
In the women’s coordinated complaints filed in Alameda County and obtained by Rolling Stone, they allege “Tesla’s factory floor 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.”
“The pervasive culture of sexual harassment, which includes a daily barrage of sexist language and behavior, including frequent groping on the factory floor, is known to supervisors and managers and often perpetrated by them,” the paperwork states.
Plaintiff Alisa Blickman claims her supervisor at Tesla’s seats factory in Fremont would touch and rub her lower back every morning and whisper sexually suggestive comments in her ear. “Ms. Blickman felt like a piece of meat at Tesla’s factory. She continues to feel embarrassed. humiliated, uncomfortable, demeaned, disrespected, and unsafe at work. She brings this case to stop to the systemic sexual harassment that plagues her and the other women at Tesla,” her complaint states.
Alize Brown says she was 21 years old with a 3-month-old baby when she started working the night shift at Tesla’s factory in Fremont. She claims a male colleague made crude comments about her lactating breasts, calling her a “cow” who was “milking today.” The man also allegedly called her backside a “wagon” and once commented, “You’re looking thick today,” her filing alleges.
When Brown asked her supervisor to speak to the harasser, the supervisor treated the verbal abuse “like a joke,” her complaint says. “She went out and bought a baggy jumpsuit to avoid comments from her harasser and others about her figure,” the filing states. “Working with her harasser was like living a nightmare, but she worked hard because it was COVID and she needed the job to support her new baby.” Brown’s complaint alleges that after three months, the supervisor who fielded her complaint told her that “she was being let go because her contract was not being renewed.”
Plaintiff Michaela Curran says her direct supervisor told her to “shake [her] ass” for him and commented that with her “big butt,” she should dance as a stripper. Another colleague allegedly asked Curran to give him a “hand job” in the parking lot, her filing states.
Jessica Brooks says she stacked up boxes around her workstation to block any view of her body because male colleagues were harassing her.
Samira Sheppard says her male supervisor commented on how he could see her nipples through her shirt, prompting others in her work area to talk about how she must be cold, according to her complaint.
Eden Mederos says she faced almost daily harassment from coworkers at the service center in Los Angeles where she worked between 2016 and 2019. She claims her colleagues referred to her backside as “cake” and a “dump trunk” and made sexist comments about how “a pretty girl shouldn’t be working in a service center.” When a supervisor allegedly “flirted with her and tried to put his arm around her while they were test driving a Tesla,” Mederos reported him to human resources, but “HR failed to take any action,” her paperwork states.
Attempts to reach lawyers for Tesla were not immediately successful Tuesday. The company previously dissolved its public relations department.
“Tesla has failed to take sexual harassment seriously, from the top of the company down,” lawyer David A. Lowe, who represents the women, said in a statement to Rolling Stone.