Judge rules Tesla can’t hide behind arbitration in sexual harassment case

A lawsuit that accuses Tesla of fostering a workplace with ‘rampant’ sexual harassment will continue in court after a California judge denied the company’s motion for arbitration, as first reported by Bloomberg. Although the worker who raised the case signed an arbitration agreement at Tesla, ending her rights to sue, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kaus still moved forward with the decision. Monday.

Jessica Barraza filed a lawsuit last year, claiming she was the victim of inappropriate phone calls, obscene comments and touching while working as a production associate at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California. At least seven other female workers have since filed sexual harassment complaints, with some alleging that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s suggestive tweets only made matters worse.

In a copy of the court documents seen by The edge, Judge Kaus said Barraza was “ambushed” by Tesla’s arbitration policies because Tesla gave “no indication that it should agree to arbitrate employment claims and waive its right to a trial by jury”. Like Bloomberg points out, President Joe Biden signed a bill in March that ends forced arbitration in sexual assault cases, but because this case started before the bill became law, it doesn’t happen. not apply.

“This is a victory for public accountability,” Barraza’s attorney David Lowe said in a statement.. “Because of this ruling, Tesla will not be able to hide behind the closed doors of confidential arbitration. Instead, Tesla will be tried by a jury of Ms. Barraza’s peers in a public courtroom.

The decision comes as Musk faces his own allegations of sexual misconduct, which were revealed in a recent report by Initiated. During a corporate flight, Musk allegedly exposed himself to a flight attendant and gave her an ultimatum to perform a sex act. SpaceX reportedly awarded the attendant $250,000 severance pay after filing a complaint with management.

Musk and his team have vehemently denied the accusations, with SpaceX Chairman Gwynne Shotwell calling the allegations “false” in a companywide email to employees. musk itself says the charges are “completely false”. Musk also has claims that the article was written to “interfere with the acquisition of Twitter”, which he had previously placed “on hold” due to a dispute over the measurement of automated accounts.

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