In a public statement, Tesla has responded to accusations that it used cheap foreign labor to build a paint shop at one of its factories. The accusations came in a report from The Mercury News, alleging that a sub-contractor misused foreign worker visas, underpaid its employees, and then fought a worker's compensation claim saying they weren't responsible for the employee's injuries.
In its statement, Tesla largely confirms The Mercury News report. Tesla says that it hired a German contractor, Eisenmann, to build a paint shop at its Fremont factory because Tesla does "not know how to built paint shops and [Eisenmann is] regarded as one of the best" in the world at building such facilities. Eisenmann hired a sub-contractor called ISM Vuzem, which brought the now-injured employee, Gregor Lesnik, from Slovenia to the US.
tesla has a moral obligation to people working at its facilities
Tesla says that Cal/OSHA found that while the company was not legally responsible for Lesnik's injuries, it still had a moral obligation to those working at its facilities, even if they aren't directly employed by Tesla. This applies to both the workman's comp claims and reports that the subcontracted employees were being paid as little as $5 per hour.
"We do not condone people coming to work at a Tesla facility, whether they work for us, one of our contractors or even a sub-subcontractor, under the circumstances described in the article," the statement says. "If Mr. Lesnik or his colleagues were really being paid $5 an hour, that is totally unacceptable."
Tesla says it is working with both Eisenmann and Vuzem to investigate the issues and that, if the claims are true, Tesla will "take action to ensure the right thing happens and all are treated fairly." It finishes by saying that Tesla will never be a company that allows "the wrong thing to happen just to save money."