Sacked Tesla manager reports ‘unsafe working condition’ at US showrooms

“Elon Musk’s Tesla was too cheap to install air conditioning in the bay of one of its service shops to protect technicians during heat waves,” a former service manager at the billionaire’s electric-car company claimed who ultimately got fired over his complaints. 

Benjamen Simon, ex-service manager at Tesla reported unsafe working conditions from heat reaching dangerous temperatures on the company’s shop floor in Peabody, Massachusetts, several times in 2021, Bloomberg reported. 

He also urged the management to install air conditioning, according to a complaint filed Thursday in Boston federal court after it was transferred from state court. However, Tesla denies wrongdoing in the case. 

Simon claimed that he kept escalating the requests, even after his managers told him Tesla’s finance department wouldn’t approve spending “well over $100,000 for just one location to get air conditioning,” the complaint read. 

Kathleen Davidson, a lawyer for the former manager stated the dangerous heat situation did not improve. “Tesla disregarded Simon’s safety complaints, the lawyer wrote in the complaint. 

Instead, Simon claims previously friendly bosses cooled toward him and, within weeks, stripped him of three of the eight dealerships he supervised. A month later, he said. 

In retaliation, he was sacked for pushing the AC issue, in what he says was a pretext Tesla concocted involving his use of a company vehicle, as per Bloomberg reports. 

He also alleged that he was wrongfully terminated and wants a jury to award him lost wages, lost benefits, and stock options, as well as compensation for emotional distress.

“Tesla maintains that plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever,” Anthony Califano, the carmaker’s attorney, said in a petition to move the suit to federal court. 

He said the case belongs there because Simon is seeking between $2.7 million and $10 million in damages, well above the threshold required to shift state court claims involving an out-of-state party.

Earlier in February, the company laid off dozens of employees from its Autopilot department at its Buffalo plant in New York after workers launched a campaign to form a union. 


(With Bloomberg inputs)

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