Lewd comments. Unwanted touching. Bullying. Retribution. These are just a few of the indignities that a group of former Tesla employees, all of them women, say they experienced while working at the company. And as Stephen Rodrick shows, it’s impossible to separate these claims, which are now working their way through the legal system, from the fratty, sexist, politically incorrect persona of Tesla’s head honcho, Elon Musk:
Tesla’s defenders would argue that every large company will at times face lawsuits, HR challenges, and disgruntled employees. However, Tesla seems to be an extreme case both in the quantity of legal actions brought in quick succession and the consistent nature of the allegations. And most companies don’t have a rule-defying leader like Musk, what with his tweets floating the idea for a new school whose acronym just happens to spell out TITS — “Am thinking of starting a new university: Texas Institute of Technology & Science. … It will have epic merch.”
The women’s legal filings detailed alleged incidents ranging from being asked for hand jobs to being stalked by drunk-on-the-job employees in the parking lot. While the cases make their way through the system and Tesla pushes back against the allegations, the fallout has been catastrophic for the women. One couldn’t leave her bedroom for weeks. Some feel ashamed, a common reaction among sexual-harassment victims. And many are having trouble jump-starting their careers after their time at Tesla left a black hole on their résumé. The women tell Rolling Stone they can’t understand why the kind of behavior they claim they experienced was, and possibly still is, being tolerated by Tesla and Musk. They believe Musk should be held accountable.