More Silicon Valley Sexism Accusations—This Time, Tesla

Employee files harassment suit against company on tail of complaints against Uber
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2017 11:43 AM CST
'Pervasive Harassment:' Worker Files Suit Against Tesla
Tesla joins Uber in getting slammed with a harassment complaint.   (Darius Kniuksta via AP)

Is it something leaking out from under the hood? First Uber was hit with sexism and harassment allegations; now Tesla is under the microscope. But the difference between AJ Vandermeyden, who's just lodged a lawsuit against Elon Musk's electric-car giant for "pervasive harassment," and Susan Fowler, who wrote a recent scathing Uber takedown on that company's alleged sexism, is that Vandermeyden is publicizing her complaint while she's still working at her company, the Guardian reports. The reason the engineer is filing a complaint rather than simply leaving to work elsewhere is that she calls herself a Tesla fan—"I really do believe they are doing great things"—and that she'd rather stay and fight against what's "fundamentally wrong" to retain what's right at the "revolutionary" company.

In addition to the "inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls" her suit says she's endured, Vandermeyden claims she and other women have lost out on promotions to less-qualified men, that she was paid less than males doing similar work, and that she was punished for being a whistleblower for pointing out manufacturing defects. Plus, she alleges, when issues like these have been broached in the past, the standard response has been that the company is too busy with carmaking to handle complaints. An anonymous employee who spoke to Mashable added Tesla's culture is one "of fear," while a Bloomberg story from early February reported on news from an alleged Tesla worker who claimed employees are trying to form a union at its plant in Fremont, Calif. In the meantime, Vandermeyden is never sure "if my badge is going to work" when she shows up for her shift, she tells the Guardian. (More Tesla stories.)

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