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Friday, June 24, 2022

Tesla loses bid to convert sexual assault lawsuit to arbitration

by Malti Nayak | bloomberg

Tesla Inc. must continue to defend itself in open court against claims of female workers facing “massive sexual harassment” at its largest California factory, after a judge rejected the company’s request for closed-door arbitration gave.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kaus ruled Monday that the woman activist who filed the complaint can pursue her case — even if she signed an arbitration agreement giving up her right to sue.

Kaus issued a one-sentence order, denying the company’s request without explaining their reasoning.

Tesla has come under fire from shareholder activists, who have pushed – so far without success – to the electric-automaker’s board to adopt more transparency about its diversity goals and to address complaints about sexual harassment and racial discrimination. To use arbitration for.

A federal law banning employers from forcing employees to mediate sexual-harassment claims was signed into law in March by President Joe Biden, but the measure doesn’t cover complaints before it went into effect.

Jessica Barraza said in a proposed class-action complaint that she experienced “nightmare” conditions as a night-shift worker at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., plant. She said that coworkers and supervisors repeatedly made lewd comments and gestures to her. When she complained to supervisors and human resources, they failed to act, Barraza said.

Tesla is facing separate lawsuits by at least six other female employees over alleged sexual harassment.

A Tesla attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.

“I am extremely grateful that this decision brings us one step closer to justice,” Baraza said in an emailed statement.

‘public accountability’

David Lowe, an attorney representing Barraza, called the ruling a “victory of public accountability.”

“Because of this decision, Tesla will not be able to hide behind the closed doors of confidential arbitration,” Lowe said in a statement. “Instead, Tesla will be judged in public court by a jury of Ms. Barraza’s peers.”

Lowe told Kauss at the March hearing that the arbitration agreement was illegal and “unconscionable” under California law.

World Nation News Desk
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