May 27, 2024

A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a finding that Tesla unlawfully fired a unionized employee and that the company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, unlawfully threatened workers with stock options if they chose to establish union.

A three-judge opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allows the National Labor Relations Board to enforce a 2021 order requiring Tesla to reinstate employees Richard Ortiz and Mr Musk to remove twitter post Advise workers that they may lose their stock options if they join a union.

“I look forward to returning to work at Tesla and working with my colleagues to finish the job of unionizing,” Mr. Ortiz said. said in a statement.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

The findings come as employees at other companies Musk runs have raised concerns about labor law violations. Last year, eight former employees of rocket maker SpaceX, led by Musk, filed allegations of unfair labor practices, saying the company retaliated against them for helping write a letter demanding better enforcement of its stated sexual harassment policy. policy. These cases are pending.

In February, Tesla fired at least 18 workers due to union organizing at a Buffalo factory. The union seeking to represent the workers called the firing retaliatory and filed charges with the labor board.Tesla says in a statement The firings were the result of a semi-annual performance review, and the decision to fire was made before the union’s election campaign was made public.

Friday’s case dates back to 2017. At the time, it was known that Mr. Ortiz was involved in unionization efforts at the company’s Fremont, California, plant, which included distributing union materials and pushing for pro-union legislation when he posted an anti-union message on a private Facebook page. Screenshot of colleagues.

When a company investigator asked Mr. Ortiz where the screenshots came from, Mr. Ortiz said he could not remember, although a colleague had sent him the images after obtaining them from an internal human resources website. Mr. Ortiz later admitted his response was a lie, and the company claims it fired him for making false statements.

The labor board concluded that Mr. Ortiz was fired because of his union involvement, not because he lied. The circuit court agreed that “substantial evidence” points to the conclusion that “union animosity prompted the complaint, investigation and decision to fire Ortiz.”

In a May 2018 post about stock options, Mr. Musk said there was nothing stopping Tesla factory workers from voting for the union, adding, “But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing?”

Tesla argued that the statement was a straightforward prediction based on Mr. Musk’s understanding that other members of the UAW did not receive stock options, and that his good intentions became apparent in a follow-up post on the same topic. .

But the labor board concluded that the post could be interpreted by employees as a threat to revoke their stock options if they chose to unionize, and ordered Mr. Musk to remove it. The circuit court agreed and said the board could enforce its order.

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