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Six more women file lawsuits against Tesla, allege sexual harassment worsened by Musk’s tweets

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The women claim that they reported the issue to HR, but nothing was done

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Six more women who work at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory and service center have filed lawsuits against the company, according to a report from The Washington Post. Each woman has filed a separate lawsuit in the California Superior Court in Alameda County, alleging that they’re subject to a culture of sexual harassment at the workplace. These new lawsuits come not even a month after two other women filed suit against the company with similar allegations.

The six women claim that their male coworkers frequently make lewd comments towards their bodies or clothes, as well as engage in abusive behavior like catcalling and inappropriate touching. Some women even went so far as to wear baggy clothing to conceal their bodies — one woman, Jessica Brooks, says she tied a flannel shirt around her waist to hide her backside in an attempt to escape harassment. She even barricaded herself in her workplace with boxes.

Brooks told The Post that she let human resources know about the issue but says she was only moved to a different work area. Other women who called attention to the behavior claim that they faced the same response that Brooks got; they allege the behavior wasn’t addressed, and they were simply moved to another location in the factory. The Post also notes that some women didn’t feel confident speaking to HR about the issue, as they claim that their managers also partook in the abusive behavior.

Another woman, Eden Mederos, told The Post that “everything got worse” once the Model Y was announced, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted “S3XY,” an acronym referencing the Model S, 3, X, and Y. Musk is also frequently observed tweeting out jokes mentioning “69” or “420” and other childish content, which Mederos told The Post “caused the technicians to be even worse.”

Just as reports of these lawsuits unfolded, Elon was in the midst of sending out snarky replies to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who posted a tweet stating, “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year [Musk] will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.” Musk immediately replied with a tweet containing a 2019 Fox News article titled, “Elizabeth Warren is a fraud — Her lies about being Native American disqualify her from presidency.” He called her “Senator Karen” in another reply, referring to the trope of a petty, obnoxious, and entitled white woman.

These six additional lawsuits come just after Jessica Barraza, who also works in Tesla’s Fremont factory, sued the electric car company for “rampant sexual harassment.” Like many of the other women suing Tesla, she also claims that she was subject to catcalling, physical touching, and inappropriate comments. And just days ago, another woman, Erica Cloud, sued Tesla for sexual harassment and retaliation, with her claims echoing many of the ones mentioned here. It doesn’t stop there — Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million after a Black employee claimed that he experienced racism and discrimination at the California plant. A class-action lawsuit has also been proposed, alleging a racist work culture.

“Elon Musk tweeting a lewd comment about women’s bodies or a taunt toward employees who report misconduct reflects an attitude at the top that enables the pattern of pervasive sexual harassment and retaliation at the heart of these cases,” says attorney David A. Lowe, partner at Rudy Exelrod Zieff & Lowe, who is representing the six women.