Tesla stockholders reject beefed-up anti-harassment reporting at Tesla days before their CEO Elon Musk gets sued for overseeing a 'pervasively sexist culture' at SpaceX

Frederic Legrand – COMEO/ShutterStock Sundry Photography/Shutterstock overlays-textures/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Tesla rejected a new anti-harassment policy days before Elon Musk sued for sexual harassment at SpaceX

Musk’s companies have been beset by complaints.

 

Marlon Ettinger

Tech

At Tesla’s annual stockholder meeting last week, investors weighed in on twelve proposals for the company, voting on everything from ho-hum board appointments to headline-news making decisions like whether CEO Elon Musk should get paid the $56 billion compensation package shareholders first approved in 2018.

The stockholders upheld that compensation agreement, but they also voted down commitments to hold off on sourcing minerals from deep sea mining, take into account sustainability metrics for senior executive compensation, and be open to union activity and collective bargaining.

They also vetoed a proposal that would require an annual report on anti-harassment and discrimination efforts in the company. 

The vote came just a day after employees for SpaceX, another company led by Elon Musk, filed a lawsuit in a California court alleging that the rocket company has “a pervasively sexist culture” filled with sexual harassment and a “love it or leave it” policy where employees were fired for speaking up against the conduct.

According to the lawsuit, women at the company were treated as “sexual objects to be evaluated on their bra size,” and “bombard[ed]” with lewd sexual banter in the workplace.

Musk was also accused of being solely in control of hiring and firing decisions and insisted that all of the company’s decisions went through him.

“Musk’s maniacal control over personnel decisions at his businesses, including SpaceX, and his failure to give Human Resources personnel reign in creating and implementing protocols and best practices in keeping with the law … directly contributed to … [the] harm,” the lawsuit continued.

According to a proxy filing ahead of the Tesla vote urging the adoption of the proposal, it’s exactly this type of HR setup that the company needs to avoid the employee turnover, reduced productivity, and high legal costs that can result from harassment and discrimination.

To be included in the proposed annual report was an account of all money paid out by the company related to abuse, harassment, or discrimination in the past three years; figures on the number of pending complaints against the company, as well as the number of NDAs that have been signed by former employees limiting discussion of harassment and discrimination; and the retention rates for employees who brought up complaints in the past.

Recent reporting into Musk and SpaceX has highlighted alleged inappropriate behavior by Musk, including a 2022 investigation by Business Insider highlighting a claim that Musk exposed his penis to a flight attendant, touched her thigh, and offered to buy her a horse if she performed a sex act on him.

A Wall Street Journal investigation last week also highlighted “boundary-blurring relationships,” Musk pursued and had with women at SpaceX, including having sex with an employee and a former intern, as well as asking a woman in 2013 at the company to have his babies, a claim alleged in an exit negotiation with HR and legal executives at the company.

“Elon is SpaceX, and SpaceX is Elon,” a former engineer alleged an executive said during a June 2022 meeting after Musk fired SpaceX employees who asked for more accountability.

SpaceX denied the allegations in the Wall Street Journal report.


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