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Tesla fires woman for making ‘false’ sexual harassment allegations

The former employee's attorney plans to file a formal retaliation complaint against the electric carmaker.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Jun 1, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 4:32 am CDT

The female Tesla engineer who sued the electric car manufacturer for allegedly ignoring her complaints regarding sexual harassment and gender discrimination was fired today, according to the Guardian.

Tesla confirmed with the Daily Dot that 33-year-old AJ Vandermeyden’s employment was terminated after an investigation conducted with the help of a neutral third-party showed her complaints were unmerited.

“Despite repeatedly receiving special treatment at the expense of others, Ms. Vandermeyden nonetheless chose to pursue a miscarriage of justice by suing Tesla and falsely attacking our company in the press,” a Tesla spokesperson told the Daily Dot. “After we carefully considered the facts on multiple occasions and were absolutely convinced that Ms. Vandermeyden’s claims were illegitimate, we had no choice but to end her employment at Tesla.”

The engineer filed a lawsuit against Tesla last fall, but first spoke publicly about it in February. Vandermeyden says she experienced, “unwelcome and pervasive harassment by men on the factory floor including, but not limited to, inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls.”

She further alleged she and fellow female employees were denied promotions despite being equally qualified, and that she’d been paid less than male employees whose work she took over. Vandermeyden claims Tesla failed to address her complains about harassment, unequal pay, and discrimination.

Tesla said it conducted a thorough investigation, and was forced to fire Vandermeyden after discovering her claims were false.

“The termination was based on Ms. Vandermeyden behaving in what the evidence indicates is a fundamentally false and misleading manner, not as a result of retaliation for the lawsuit,” Tesla wrote. “It is impossible to trust anyone after they have behaved in such a manner and therefore continued employment is also impossible.”

Vandermeyden’s lawyer told the Guardian her job termination is an act of “clear retaliation” from Tesla, and that the company is trying make its employees believe they will be fired if they speak out against matters they are legally allowed to speak out against.

“This was absolutely shocking for AJ. She is devastated,” said Therese Lawless, Vandermeyden’s attorney. “She brought the lawsuit in an attempt to make the workplace at Tesla more equitable and fair and to have Tesla comply with the law.”

Lawless plans to file a formal retaliation complaint, claiming it is illegal in California for an employer to retaliate against an employee who, “asserts her rights including her rights to receive equal pay as her male colleagues.”

H/T the Verge

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*First Published: Jun 1, 2017, 2:47 pm CDT