More than 20 female Tesla employees reportedly shared stories of “sexual harassment, mistreatment by male managers, and unfair promotion decisions” at a company town hall meeting in March, according to a report by the Guardian.
An account of the meeting, published by the Guardian, claims one woman called part of the Tesla factory a “predator zone” for harassment. Other women allegedly talked about feeling unsafe around male managers and being dismissed or talked over in meetings.
AJ Vandermeyden, a former Tesla employee who sued the company over sexual harassment claims, is one of several women who spoke to the Guardian about the meeting. Vandermeyden thought the other women’s comments would validate her claims of “inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls” in the workplace. She was fired a few months after the town hall. Tesla told the Daily Dot that it investigated her claims and found they were “illegitimate.” A Tesla spokesperson called Vandermeyden “someone who is intentionally trying to misconstrue the facts and paint Tesla in a negative light.”
Tesla disputed the Guardian’s description of the town hall, which was set up by Women in Tesla, a group that holds meetings to discuss the work environment. The electric car company denies that the meeting was a response to backlash for inviting women to an essential oils meeting a week after Vandermeyden alleged sexual harassment at the company.
“Employees stood up to ask the executives questions, share their experiences at Tesla–both positive and negative–while others spoke of things that they believed Tesla was doing right and some came with suggestions,” a Tesla spokesperson wrote. “In some instances, employees were only looking for better collaboration with their HR business partners in general and had nothing to do with any allegations of harassment.”
The company did say many in the room were surprised when one of its employees called the Tesla factory a “predator zone.” It responded by sending an email to all factory workers reminding them of its “strict policy against any kind of harassment.”
“The topics raised in this meeting were followed up directly with those willing to discuss,” a Tesla representative told Business Insider. “We have a no-tolerance policy and have made changes to leadership, policy, and training to continue to improve our work environment.”
The recent allegations against Tesla come just months after engineer Susan Fowler spoke up about sexual harassment and gender bias at Uber. Her complaints led to an investigation and the departure of top executives including former CEO Travis Kalanick.