One of Tesla’s production associates at the factory in Fremont, California, sued the electric car giant in California court, saying she experienced “nightmarish conditions” of sexual harassment on the carmaker’s Model 3 assembly line that caused multiple panic attacks.
Jessica Barraza’s suit against Tesla Inc., accuses the company and unnamed individuals of sexual harassment and retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. She notes that she plans to add another cause of action under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act.
“Tesla’s factory floor more resembles a crud, archaic construction site or frat house than a cutting-edge company in the heart of the progressive San Francisco Bay Area,” the complaint says.
Thirty-eight-year-old Barraza joined the Factory in 2018 working the night shift, now says that she suffered near-daily harassment on the job. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result and is currently on medical leave, according to the complaint and her attorney David Lowe of Rudy Exelrod Zieff & Lowe LLP.
Both supervisors as well as male and female coworkers harassed Barraza. Co-workers groped her in the workplace; pushed their groins into her buttocks; followed her, texted her; catcalled and whistled at her as she walked past; said things about her body, like “she’s got fat titties,” or “she’s got cakes”; and cursed at her, she says.
“All” of her supervisors either were aware of the harassment or were doing it themselves, she adds. She also says she’d been interviewed for an internal sexual harassment investigation into her current supervisor.
When she complained to one supervisor that her co-workers kept commenting on her breasts, he told her, “Maybe you shouldn’t wear shirts that draw attention to your chest,” even though she was wearing a Tesla-issued work shirt, according to the suit.
After the company turned a blind eye to her September 2021 complaints about a male co-worker standing behind her and putting his leg between hers while she was clocking in, Barraza had multiple panic attacks, one of which landed her in the hospital, she says.
Tesla was recently hit with a giant $137 million jury verdict for a separate racial discrimination lawsuit. Tesla has since asked a judge to strike down that damages amount.
Barraza’s lawyer, Lowe, said in a statement “We are bringing this case to put a stop to the harassment against Ms. Barraza and her colleagues.”
“No one should feel this way when they come to work, and I hope Tesla will protect their employees better and not allow this behavior within its company to be perpetrated any longer,” Barraza added in a statement.