Tesla Faces Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Alleging ‘Nightmarish’ Conditions

Jessica Barraza, 38, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Tesla, alleging “nightmarish” conditions of unchecked inappropriate behavior from coworkers at the electric vehicle (EV) maker’s factory in Fremont, California — reports Reuters.

Barraza, who works night shifts at the Fremont factory as a production associate, says she endured “near-daily” catcalls and inappropriate touching during her three years at Tesla. The married mother of two said male workers would routinely proposition her, stare at her breasts, describe her as having an “onion booty” or “Coke bottle,” and brush up against her body while pretending it was accidental.

According to a complaint filed with a California state court in Alameda County, outside San Francisco, on Thursday, Barraza said the final straw came on September 28, when a male coworker snuck up behind her and put his leg between her thighs as she clocked in from her lunch break.

“Oh, my bad,” he said, chuckling after she physically recoiled from the interaction,

The plaintiff also alleges that sexual harassment goes unchecked, with supervisors turning their backs when complaints are brought. Barraza says that the company’s human resources department has not addressed complaints she filed with them in September and October.

According to the plaintiff, Tesla even disabled its hr@tesla.com email address for receiving complaints.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Tesla for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Barraza says Tesla, like many “tech employers,” required her to sign an arbitration agreement, designed to keep workplace disputes out of court. According to the complainant, however, the agreement’s “unconscionable” terms make it unenforceable.

Barraza says she is currently on doctor-ordered medical leave, with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tesla has been no stranger to claims of mistreatment at its Fremont factory as of late. Last month, a federal jury in San Francisco ordered the EV maker to pay Owen Diaz, a Black ex-contract worker, $136.9 million USD for the racial harassment he faced at the facility.

Earlier this week, Tesla petitioned a judge to overturn that verdict and reduce the $136.9 million USD jury award to something more reasonable.

The company said it “abhors and condemns” all racial slurs, and that even if it should have done a better job at preventing racism and racial harassment at its factory, the most Diaz deserved was $600,000 USD.