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Foreign Worker Settles Tesla Suit

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

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Tesla Motors and the Slovenian worker injured during construction of its high-volume paint shop have settled a case that brought to light questionable wage and hiring practices involving the electric automaker.

Electrician Gregor Lesnik, who was injured in a three-story fall during expansion of a Tesla Motors paint shop factory in California, will receive $550,000 for back wages and his injuries, according to The Mercury News.

An agreement on the settlement was reportedly reached in May; however, the final order resolving the matter was filed in Alameda County Superior Court July 18.

financial settlement
© iStock.com / slobo

A Slovenian worker at the center of a controversial report on foreign workers who helped build Tesla's Fremont, CA, paint factory has settled with the automaker.

Lesnik and his lawsuit against Tesla and two subcontractors, Eisenmann and ISM Vuzum, were the focus of a watchdog report The Mercury News published in May.

The controversial report questioned Tesla’s hiring procedures and pay structure for foreign workers and prompted this response from Tesla, along with a string of tweets from the organization’s CEO Elon Musk.

Suit Details

Lesnik—who was seriously injured in Tesla’s Fremont factory in May 2015—alleged he was paid as little as $5 per hour without overtime. The alleged pay rate was $50 shy from an hourly labor rate agreed upon in contracts with subcontractors, Tesla said at the time. See: “Paint Shop Builder Sues Tesla.”

The suit had claimed that Lesnik and many other Eastern European laborers were brought into the country under “questionable visas” and were not compensated as promised. The suit estimated that the workers were still owed $2.6 million in overtime and additional pay, the report said.

Following the watchdog report, Tesla said that although it acted legally, it held itself to a higher moral standard.

“All of that is fine legally, but there is a larger point. Morally, we need to give Mr. Lesnik the benefit of the doubt and we need to take care of him. We will make sure this happens.”

Court documents do not break down the settlement payment made by each company; however, the final order filed leaves open the possibility of new wage claims by other workers, according to The Mercury News.

   

Tagged categories: Automotive coatings; Business matters; Factory application methods; Fall protection; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits

Comment from Brian Gingras, (7/26/2016, 4:10 PM)

With workers unemployed in the US how are foreign workers allowed to be put to work before US citizens???? Something is wrong here.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/28/2016, 8:13 AM)

Fremont has a really low unemployment rate @ 3.5%, and I doubt more than a couple of them could possibly be electricians (or at least, relatively sober electricians who actually show up when scheduled.)


Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/28/2016, 10:51 AM)

Yup, had the same issue up here during the last boom...high job availability, low unemployment and those looking for work were either "selective" in what they were willing to do or needed to get dry or clean before they were capable of work. Temporary foreign workers are not the ideal solution, but they will do in a crunch.


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