Almost a month ago, Tesla production associate Jessica Barraza came forward to file a lawsuit against her employers over allegations of sexual harasment in the workplace.
Last week, a second sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Erica Cloud, a Tesla assembly line worker. And now, another six lawsuits against the firm have been filed by women claiming sexual harasment at the company, with all but one being workers at its Fremont plant in California.
Barraza’s initial suit detailed how male co-workers would comment on the appearance of female bodies in the workplace, how she was specifically placed on a certain assignment because a co-worker was attracted to her, and how those who raised their concerns were silenced.
“Nearly every day for three years, my female coworkers and I were objectified, threatened, touched, and propositioned on the factory floor,” said Barraza in her initial statement in November.
“I wanted to come to work, do my job, and support my family without having to endure constant sexual harassment. I felt degraded, humiliated, and traumatized.”
When attempting to raise her complaints with an HR representative, Barraza was given an email address that wasn’t active. She did eventually inform an HR representative of the complaint, only for no subsequent investigation to occur.
Following on from Barraza and Cloud’s suits, Michaela Curran, Alize Brown, Jessica Brooks, Alisa Blickman, Samira Sheppard, and Eden Medoros filed suits overnight.
“Jessica’s story gave her colleagues the courage to come forward,” said William Jhaveri-Weeks of the Jhaveri-Weeks Firm in San Francisco, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
“These many similar experiences show that this is a systemic problem at Tesla. Nobody deserves to be treated this way at work.”
“What we’re addressing for each of the lawsuits is just a shocking pattern of rampant harassment that exists at Tesla,” added David A. Lowe, a partner at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe LLP, which is representing the women.
“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.”
The allegations from the six new plaintiffs follow a similar pattern to Barraza’s allegations.
Curran, this being her first job out of highschool, says her direct supervisor commented on her body and said she should become a stripper. Brooks says HR were aware of sexual harassment she had faced from co-workers, but elected to move her to a different part of the factory instead of moving her harassers.
Blickman says her supervisor would often make unwanted physical contact and whisper sexual comments in her ear. Brown says she was called a “cow” by co-workers after having a baby, with her supervisor brushing off complaints about the remarks.
“While women are historically underrepresented in the tech and automotive industries, we recognize we have work to do in this area,” said Tesla in its 2020 diversity report.
“We are taking active steps to increase our outreach to women and build an inclusive culture that supports their development and retention. Increasing women’s representation at all levels, especially in leadership, is a top priority in 2021.”