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Tesla Found Guilty of Violating U.S. Labor Law by Silencing Workers

Tesla supervisors at a Florida service center have been found guilty of violating U.S. labor law, adding to the automaker's mounting legal challenges.

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Tesla supervisors at a Florida service center were found to have violated U.S. labor law by instructing employees not to discuss pay and other working conditions or bring complaints to higher-level managers, according to a ruling by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge Michael Rosas.

Managers' Illegal Actions Following Pay Complaints

The illegal actions occurred in 2021 after several employees complained about new hires being paid more than existing workers at the Orlando repair shop. In response, managers held a meeting instructing the 25 employees not to discuss pay or working conditions and not to file complaints with higher-level managers.

Judge Orders Tesla to Cease Violations and Notify Employees

Judge Rosas ordered Tesla to stop violating workers' rights, post notice of the violations in the service center, and email it to employees. This ruling is the latest setback for Tesla, which also faces lawsuits alleging race and sex discrimination at its assembly plants.

The Technician's Complaint and NLRB Hearing

The issue came to light after a technician who had complained about the pay discrepancy was fired. The technician filed a complaint against Tesla with the NLRB, leading to a hearing in February and the subsequent ruling in favor of the employees.

Tesla's Argument and Judge's Rebuttal

Tesla argued that it had quickly repudiated the managers' comments by posting a notice in the service center, stating that company policy allowed workers to discuss their pay. However, Judge Rosas determined that attempting to silence employees violated their fundamental right under U.S. labor law to advocate for better working conditions.

This decision follows a U.S. appeals court upholding an NLRB ruling that Tesla CEO Elon Musk broke the law by tweeting that employees would lose stock options if they joined a union. The company also appealed an NLRB decision stating it unlawfully barred factory workers from wearing union t-shirts. Additionally, Tesla faces several race discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits, primarily involving its Fremont, California, assembly plant.