Judge Stephen Kraus has rejected a Tesla request to keep a sexual harassment case private, providing a 1-sentence ruling that effectively dismisses the company’s bid to push a sexual harassment lawsuit into private arbitration. The lawsuit in question is one of dozens of similar cases in which employees claim that they faced catcalls, groping, racial slurs, and sexual harassment on the job.
The sexual harassment lawsuit in question was brought against Tesla in November by Jessica Barraza, a woman who worked in the company’s Fremont, California factory since October 2018. She said the factory was home to “rampant sexual harassment,” and that the facility operated like a “frat house,” according to a complaint reported by Business Insider. Barraza also complained that she was frequently cat-called, that male coworkers would “brush up” against her, and that some would even “unnecessarily touch her” on a weekly basis.
“This is a victory for public accountability,” said David Lowe, an attorney representing Barraza, in a press statement. “Because of this ruling, Tesla will not be able to hide behind the closed doors of confidential arbitration. Instead, Tesla will be judged by a jury of Ms. Barraza’s peers in a public courtroom.”
For her part, Barraza seems to hope that her lawsuit, filed last November, will shed light on what she and many others claim is a toxic culture within Tesla. “After almost three years of experiencing all the harassment, it robs your sense of security,” she said. “It almost dehumanizes you.”
In a November interview with The Washington Post, Barraza said Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s behavior enabled the sexist and hostile environment inside the factory with tweets like this one below in which Musk jokes about starting a university with the acronym TITS. “That doesn’t set a good example for the factory,” said Barraza. “… it almost gives it like an … ‘he’s tweeting about it, it has to be okay.'”
Am thinking of starting new university:
Texas Institute of Technology & Science
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 29, 2021
Last week (less than 24 hours after “coming out” as a Republican), Business Insider reported that Elon Musk’s other future-looking company, SpaceX, paid a flight attendant $250,000 out of court to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018. Musk denies that story is true, and longtime SpaceX COO Glenn Shotwell has said that she doesn’t believe the allegations are true.
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