A female engineer at Tesla claims the electric vehicle maker fosters a cultural of “sexual harassment” and promotes less qualified men over women.
AJ Vandermeyden, an engineer with the California-based company, has accused Tesla of dismissing claims she suffers harassment from her fellow employees daily. She also said the company unfairly places impossibly high barriers on women trying to advance their careers.
“Until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change,” she said in a recent interview, which stems from a lawsuit she filed last year against Tesla CEO Elon Musk . “I’m an advocate of Tesla. I really do believe they are doing great things. That said, I can’t turn a blind eye if there’s something fundamentally wrong going on.”
Vandermeyden was eventually promoted to an engineering position in the general assembly department, which consisted mostly of men and where she was paid less, according to her complaint. She also claimed the company overlooked her solutions to engineer glitches and promoted men above her.
Vandermeyden’s complaint alleges there were inadequacies in the quality testing of cars, and that she raised issues about the flaws she observed, which supervisors and male engineers had missed. She and other female engineers, the lawsuit states, were denied promotions even though they were “equally or more qualified” than the men.
She also experienced “unwelcome and pervasive harassment by men on the factory floor including but not limited to inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls”, the lawsuit claims.
“Equal pay is something that is essentially in the back of your mind every single day,” she said. “You have all these data points showing how you’ve exceeded some of the predecessors and improved on the system. It wears on you.”
Researchers have refuted much of the argument suggesting that women, on average, receive less pay than men.
A study published in 2016, for instance, shows pay differences between the genders has more to do with the different choices men and women make about life-work balances.
Women were willing to give up 7.3 percent of their pay for more flexible hours compared to just one percent for men. They also said they would opt for lower earnings to the tune of four percent for more job security, compared to 0.6 percent for men.
Vandermeyden’s allegations also come on the heels of recent reports showing United Automobile Workers (UAW) union had been approached by workers at Tesla’s main California assembly plant about ways to unionize the employees.
UAW also dispelled claims Musk made, that Tesla employee Jose Moran “is not and has not been paid by the UAW.” Musk accused Moran of being a union stooge paid to “agitate for a union.”
Moran, who works as production assistant with the company, claimed in a Medium piece in early February that the factory’s “machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies,” and requires “too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers’ input were welcomed.”
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