Judge Says Tesla CEO's Tweet Violated Federal Labor Law


Judge Says Tesla CEOs Tweet Violated Federal Labor Law

Electric-car maker Tesla was charged with violating federal labor law after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk suggested in a tweet that employees who joined a union would have to give up their stock options.

Musk said on Twitter that nothing was stopping Tesla employees from voting for a union. "But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare," he wrote.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

Threat to Take Away Benefits

Administrative Law Judge Amita Baman Tracy found that the tweet threatened employees. "Musk's tweet can only be read by a reasonable employee to indicate that if the employees vote to unionize [then] they would give up stock options," Tracy said. "Musk threatened to take away a benefit enjoyed by the employees consequently for voting to unionize."

(Fox 5)

Appeal Is Likely

The judge ordered the company to reinstate a fired union supporter and revoke a warning to another worker. Tesla also will have to hold a meeting at its Fremont, Calif. plant to inform employees that the company violated the National Labor Relations Act, and Musk is required to attend the meeting. Tesla, however, is likely to appeal the ruling.


More Troubling Tweets

Musk has found himself in trouble over his tweets in the past. In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission scrutinized a tweet saying he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private. He was removed as chairman of the Tesla's board, fined $20 million and given limitations on what he can post on social media.

(The Washington Post)

Musk's Marijuana Use

Musk also made headlines last year when he appeared to be smoking weed and drinking whiskey on a podcast hosted in California. Although recreational marijuana use is permitted in the state, it remains illegal under federal law and employers can still discipline workers for being high. So did Musk violate company policy by sharing a joint on the show? He said that the company's policy allows for employees to have a limited amount of THC—the drug's psychoactive component—in their system during work hours, if the level is low enough not to pose a safety threat.

(SHRM Online)

Can Robots Replace Humans?

Musk has said that robots can do everything people can do—just many times faster. However, using robots wasn't helping the company reach its production goals for the Tesla Model 3 electric car in 2017, and Musk said he was wrong in a tweet. "Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated," he wrote.

(SHRM Online)


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Search Jobs

Move your HR career forward.

Apply for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam today to save $75 with early-bird pricing! Applicants now have the option to test from home.

Apply for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam today to save $75 with early-bird pricing! Applicants now have the option to test from home.



Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect

HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.