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Tesla fires female engineer who sued over “pervasive harassment”

Tesla has fired the female engineer who sued the company for “pervasive harassment.” The Silicon Valley company says AJ Vandermeyden’s termination is justified because her claims were unsubstantiated, however, Vandermeyden’s attorneys allege that her being pink slipped is retaliation for her lawsuit.

Vandermeyden had been with Tesla since April of 2013, and alleged that during her time there she was subjected to behavior including “inappropriate language, whistling, and cat calls” at the hands of the mostly male staff. She further claims that she was paid less than her male colleagues despite performing work “equal in skill, effort, and responsibility.” Vandermeyden also says that her attempts to raise concerns about the quality testing of cars and office behavior toward women were ignored by male superiors.

Tesla confirmed Vandermeyden’s firing to The Verge:

“Despite repeatedly receiving special treatment at the expense of others, Ms. Vandermeyden nonetheless chose to pursue a miscarriage of justice by suing Tesla and falsely attacking our company in the press,” a spokesperson said. “After we carefully considered the facts on multiple occasions and were absolutely convinced that Ms. Vandermeyden’s claims were illegitimate, we had no choice but to end her employment at Tesla.”

Vandermeyden’s lawyer told The Guardian that their client’s termination “proves our case. It’s clear retaliation.” She added “Somebody is trying to instill in employees that when they speak out about matters they are legally allowed to speak out about, they too will be fired.”

Gabrielle Toledano, Tesla’s new global head of Human Resources, personally informed Vandermeyden of her termination. Vandermeyden was fired because she was “behaving in what the evidence indicates is a fundamentally false and misleading manner, not as a result of retaliation for the lawsuit,” the spokesperson said. “It is impossible to trust anyone after they have behaved in such a manner and therefore continued employment is also impossible.”

The story first got national attention when Vandermeyden went public with her lawsuit in February of this year, although the lawsuit was filed in September 2016.

At the time, Tesla said “She sought and was advanced into at least one other new role, evidence of the fact that Tesla is committed to rewarding hard work and talent, regardless of background.”

“Until somebody stands up, nothing is going to change,” she said in an interview with The Guardian about the discrimination lawsuit she filed last year. “I’m an advocate of Tesla. I really do believe they are doing great things. That said, I can’t turn a blind eye if there’s something fundamentally wrong going on.”

Tesla fires female engineer who sued over “pervasive harassment

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Top Rated Comments  (view all)Discuss: News

We don’t really know the details but if she was being bothered by other co-workers and Tesla supervisors “ignored” her complains, then why not sue the actual co-workers.??? Ohhh yes. In the US everyone sues where the money is, hence “lets sue Tesla”.

If the sue got unsubstantiated that means that the judge didn’t find any fault in Tesla as a company. Otherwise if she would have won the sue, Tesla wouldn’t have been able to fire her at all.

Its got more to do in what can or can’t be proven in court, rather than where your last name comes from.

Mergoscia, sorry to hear your mother is so ill, perhaps this is what put you so out of sorts this thread. Best wishes.

You seem to think the Dutch will react if badly if a Dutch person is terminated for cause. I have never found any of the Dutch persons I know to be this irresponsible or easily swayed into purely “racist” reactions (yes, this would be a pure and classic case fitting the definition of racism). I suspect you are seriously underestimating the Dutch.

As for your proposition that other women were too fearful to voice their concerns, You also seriously underestimate the tenacity and resourcefulness of women.

Mergoscia, sorry to hear your mother is so ill, perhaps this is what put you so out of sorts this thread. Best wishes.
You seem to think the Dutch will react if badly if a Dutch person is terminated for cause. I have never found any of the Dutch persons I know to be this irresponsible or easily swayed into purely “racist” reactions (yes, this would be a pure and classic case fitting the definition of racism). I suspect you are seriously underestimating the Dutch.

As for your proposition that other women were too fearful to voice their concerns, You also seriously underestimate the tenacity and resourcefulness of women.

@ J. Taylor
To begin with your last remark. It has nothing to do with sex(es). In a working environment people ( man and woman alike) can feel the pressure not to speak out, cause when you do speak out you will get trouble yourself.
Woman are more or less liberated and equal to men nowadays, because of their tenacity and resourcefulness the last 100 years. But still not totally enough to my liking. Remember I am a Amsterdammer. Amsterdam, once the most liberated and progressive city in the world next to San Fran. And one of my Great-Aunts made the Women‘s right to vote in a bill 100 years ago this year in The Netherlands. And it passed all the Chambers and all the legal institutions.
I have a question though about your first remark about racist reactions. Can you explain to me, cause I do not understand I make racist remarks.
I am not underestimating the Dutch, I mean exactly the opposite. Dutch try to make the world a better place by speaking out, as small as the contribution may seem.

We don’t really know the details but if she was being bothered by other co-workers and Tesla supervisors “ignored” her complains, then why not sue the actual co-workers.??? Ohhh yes. In the US everyone sues where the money is, hence “lets sue Tesla”.

If the sue got unsubstantiated that means that the judge didn’t find any fault in Tesla as a company. Otherwise if she would have won the sue, Tesla wouldn’t have been able to fire her at all.

Its got more to do in what can or can’t be proven in court, rather than where your last name comes from.

With this part of the sentence:” Its got more to do in what can or can’t be proven in court” I can agree at a lower court / judge. It’s all about proving…….not about if something did happen (or did not happen). It is often “proof” against “what really happened”. In jurisdictional cases it is called ” You will hardly ever get your point even if you are right”. (That is a Dutch expression) . But when lawyers are digging deeper and are going to higher courts, it is the question if Tesla will be able to stand the view they have been taken. Dutch lawyers are ruthless against companies.
But what I more and more find anoying is that this is not the first story about the (hostile) working envirioment at Tesla. It is one in a sequence…. that is what worries me the most. The confidence in Tesla can fade away, especcially when these kind of personal stories of female workers are getting known. I think Tesla should have handeled this differently. One cannot ignore discrimination and sexual harrassment at the workfloor. Even if somebody whistled once. That is not done in a working envirremont. It is the same thing as somebody is pointing to your trousers and stating you have a small wheenie to every collegue and laughing about it. It is not the place nor the activity for what you are hired for.
And about the last part of the sentence: “rather than where your last name comes from”. In the mentality of the Dutch is the following proces of thinking. “You work hard and never complain, untill something is really wrong and you yourself tried to solve it in harmony over a long period ofd time; after nothing happens you have to talk it over with your superiors. Then if nothing happens yest you go to the higher managers and to Human Resources. If still nothing happens than you have to speak out, cause the point you are making is true and a reality.” Dutch are straight, open, direct and honest in these things. That is their mentality. So I believe Mw. van der Meyden 100 %. And therefore I do not understand Tesla’s point of view, other than they don’t want the story to come out. Bad publicity. But it is and will be stupid of Tesla, cause honesty will last…………….and conquer.

Fully agree, @J.Taylor .
This looks like another overcooked story which T≡SLA critics will jump on to spread bad press… As @orlando rightly wrote, we don’t know all the facts so let’s just leave it at that….

I would also surmise that the Dutch origins of the lady in question have little to do with the case; the lady is American, presumably 3rd or 4th generation Dutch only…. So while I appreciate our friend @Mergoscia feels a connection here (;)) this piece of information is probably anecdotal at best…

Next topic? 😀

@Michael Russo, Even if she is third or fourth generation. Dutch tend to hold on their traditions and more over their mentality. Even more…. the American mentality is mostly based on Dutch Jewish-Christian mentality and education. So I do not think at all my story is at best anedotical.
But I will have a pause in my contributions, cause my mother is severly ill and probably will die in a few days time.

Michael, I am not a critic of Tesla, I even think the opposite, but I do keep critical at some points. Cause nowhere is perfect. Not even at Tesla. Next to this I’ve been in boards, management and works/ employee councils. From those points of view I experienced a bit, quite a bit. So I do not think it is a overcooked story.

If there was “pervasive harassment” of female employees, then you might think other female employees would have spoken up to substantiate her claim. That did not happen. Elon has no problem promoting qualified women, just look at who is running SpaceX.
Other employees keep quiet, because they are scared for the consequences. That’s why hardly anyone speaks out. It don’t have to be that Elon is the problem in these cases, but the pressure of the rest of the company. Even Elon cannot say everthing in his company.
And do you think that at SpaceX, somebody will harrass the boss? If someone does he or she is pretty stupid. Even more. The culture and work ethics are different there.

I saw several examples of same situations in different organisations where the highest boss/ owners said to me. I do not want those things to happen, but if I say something I lose my power. Think about that.

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