A new Tesla lawsuit has been filed recently, and this time it has nothing to do with the safety of its vehicles. A former employee is suing the automaker after she experienced “nightmarish” sexual harassment on multiple occasions.
Tesla lawsuit cites repeated instances of sexual harassment
According to a report from Reuters, a Tesla lawsuit claims that the female employees at the automaker experience “nightmarish” and “rampant” sexual harassment at its Freemont, California factory. The suit also claims that supervisors were did nothing to help when complaints were brought to them.
38-year-old Jessica Barraza said that she endured “near daily” instances of harassment, including catcalls and unwanted touching during the three years she worked at the factory. She worked night shifts as a production associate.
Barraza, a married mother of two, claimed that male co-workers would constantly proposition her, stare at her chest, make comments about her body, and brush up against her pretending it was accidental.
Barraza said that Tesla’s HR department did not respond to her complaints about the harassment she was facing, and at one point, HR disabled its email address.
Reuters says that Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Tesla does not have a PR department and closed its press office in 2020.
Barraza is seeking damages for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. She is currently on media leave and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Tesla is also facing a lawsuit for a crash involving its Autopilot software
Barraza’s claims of sexual harassment are not the only Tesla lawsuit to arise within the last few months. In early November, Automotive News reported that for the first time, a court trial will determine if Tesla Autopilot was a factor in a crash that resulted in a fatality.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is included on a list of potential witnesses for that trial along with Mary “Missy” Cummings, Senior Safety Advisor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Musk and Cummings have an adversarial relationship as both have publically criticized each other on social media.
When this article is published, it is unclear if Musk will be called to testify in the trial.
The NHTSA is investigating Tesla
If a Tesla lawsuit weren’t enough controversy for the automaker, the NHTSA is actively investigating the company due to several accidents involving Tesla vehicles.
The most recent NHTSA investigation involves Telsa’s Full Self Driving Beta (FSD) software. A Tesla owner and FSD Beta user claimed that his Model Y was in FSD mode when his vehicle went into the wrong lane during a left turn.
The driver said he attempted to regain control of the car, but the software resisted and “forced itself into the incorrect lane.”
Between the investigations and lawsuits, Tesla is likely to go on the offensive to combat the negative attention it received in recent months.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, there are resources available that can assist you.
How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.