Posts tagged with "CEO Elon Musk"

Tesla to pay more than $130 million in damages to Black former worker

IOctober 6, 2021

Tesla  subjected a Black former worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being harassed, a federal jury in San Francisco found on Monday, October 4.

The eight-person jury awarded more than $130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory in 2015 and 2016, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Diaz often was called racial epithets at work, where he saw racist images and language written in the bathroom and elsewhere, said Bernard Alexander, one of his attorneys, during the trial. The factory, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, was Tesla’s lone auto assembly plant at the time—employing roughly 10,000 people.

The complainant, age 53, held his head in his hands after the jury’s verdict was read. He called the decision a weight off his shoulders. The trial lasted just over a week.

“It shines a light on what’s going on inside of Tesla’s factory,” he said. “Elon Musk, you’ve been put on notice. Clean that factory up.”

Tracey Kennedy, an attorney for Tesla, said in her closing argument that there was no evidence that a Tesla employee harassed Diaz and that the company shouldn’t be held liable for the treatment Diaz alleged. Many workers at Tesla’s factory are contractors employed through staffing agencies.

Tesla’s VP of People Valerie Capers Workman said in an email to employees Monday that when Mr. Diaz complained about harassment, the company ensured its staffing agencies took action.

“While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect,” she said in the note, which was republished on Tesla’s blog.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict or any plans to appeal.

Among the three claims on which the trial centered are the following:

  • Tesla subjected Diaz to a racially hostile work environment;
  • The company failed to prevent him from being racially harassed; and
  • Tesla was negligent in its supervision or retention of an employee, causing harm to Diaz.

Tesla denied in a court filing that it was aware of the alleged discriminatory and harassing behavior and didn’t take action to protect Black employees. Kennedy urged the jury to find in Tesla’s favor on each of the claims.

However, the jury, after roughly four hours of deliberation, found in favor of Diaz on all claims and ordered Tesla to pay Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages.

It is the second time in recent months that the electric-vehicle maker has been found liable in a case involving claims of race-based harassment or discrimination.

Another Black former Tesla worker, Melvin Berry, won a $1 million judgment in May after an arbitrator found that he was called racial slurs by his supervisors and subjected to other racial conduct in the Fremont factory. Tesla was obligated to investigate and stop the racial discrimination and failed to do so, the arbitrator said in her order.

Tesla said that any actions the company took weren’t racially based, according to the order.

Diaz, who was employed by a staffing agency, didn’t sign an arbitration agreement, allowing his case to proceed to trial. His attorneys said they believed this to be the first case involving alleged harassment or discrimination at Tesla to reach trial.

Tesla is facing similar claims in California state court, where former Tesla assembly worker Marcus Vaughn sued, alleging that Tesla created an intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment for Black workers. He and other plaintiffs are seeking class certification.

Tesla has denied the claims, court records show. In a blog post after Vaughn filed his lawsuit in 2017, Tesla said, “it is not humanly possible to stop all bad conduct, but we will do our best to make it as close to zero as possible.”

An investor proposal up for consideration at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday calls on the board to oversee preparation of a report about how the company’s use of mandatory arbitration affects employees and corporate culture. Tesla’s board has urged investors to vote against the proposal. A similar measure failed last year.

Research contact: @WSJ

Driving ambition: Elon Musk claims Tesla will have 1 million robotaxis on roads by 2020

April 24, 2019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week that the company would have 1 million robotaxis on the roads by next year, according to a report by NBC News.

“I feel very confident predicting autonomous robotaxis for Tesla next year,” Musk said on stage at the Tesla Autonomy Investor Day in Palo Alto, California. They won’t be “in all jurisdictions, because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I am confident we will have at least regulatory approval somewhere, literally next year,” he said.

However, he noted that the autonomous cars might have nobody in them; they might be part of a pilot test. He also warned investors, “Sometimes I am not on time, but I get it done.”

Musk based his optimism on the amount of data his company has been able to gather from Tesla vehicles already on the road today, which it then uses to improve its software.

All Tesla electric cars being produced today have the hardware on board that’s required for full self-driving, Musk said, promising that, “all you need to do is improve the software.”

Musk also predicted that in two years, Tesla will be making cars with no steering wheels or pedals.

In the past, NBC News reports, Elon Musk’s forecasts for Tesla have missed the mark. Tesla was two years late with the launch of the Model X, its first all-electric SUV. And it was two years late in delivering semi-autonomous features to eager drivers.

When Tesla began to discuss its ambitions in self-driving technology in 2016, Musk said they would conduct a hands-free trip across the U.S. by late 2017. They have yet to complete that mission.

Currently, Tesla offers Autopilot — an advanced driver assistance system — as a standard feature in its cars. According to the company’s website, Autopilot can automatically hold a car in its lane and accelerate or brake automatically, for example, in response to pedestrians or other cars in its way. Tesla can improve Autopilot with new features (or bug fixes) over time via over-the-air updates, as well.

In addition, Tesla sells a Full Self-Driving (FSD), package for its vehicles for $5,000 or more if the software is installed after the vehicle is initially purchased, the network news outlet reports.

FSD features today include Summon, which lets a driver call their Tesla to roll out from a parking spot to where they are standing (with no driver on board). And FSD lets drivers  Navigate on Autopilot, automatically driving a car from a highway on-ramp to an off-ramp, making necessary lane changes along the way.

Later this year, Tesla’s website says, cars with FSD should be able to read and respond properly to traffic lights and stop signs, and drive automatically on city streets.

However, Tesla still cautions its drivers, “Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.” In other words, keep your eyes on the road.

Research contact: @Tesla

Musk considers taking Tesla private

August 9, 2018

Tesla—which has evolved from an audacious and aggressive Silicon Valley electric-car manufacturer founded in 2003 to a $63 billion colossus just eight years after going public—could be reversing course to go private.

A final decision has not yet been made, Chief Executive Elon Musk told his employees in an August 7 email posted on the company’s official website.

As a public company,” Musk wrote, “we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market; being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company. “

Basically, he said, “I’m trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible.

Musk envisions that being private would mean four things for “all shareholders, including employees”—among them:

Musk ended the email on a positive note, with no timeline for the decision or the final move. “This proposal to go private would ultimately be finalized through a vote of our shareholders. If the process ends the way I expect it will, a private Tesla would ultimately be an enormous opportunity for all of us. Either way, the future is very bright and we’ll keep fighting to achieve our mission,” he stated.

Research contact: Press@tesla.com