Croat Sues Tesla Motors for Exploitation

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The court has decided to consider the lawsuit.

The US court has accepted lawsuits made by Croat Stjepan Papeš and Slovenian Gregor Lešnik against Tesla Motors, an electric car producer, based on allegations of exploitation of workers and threats of deportation in the event of illness or injury, reports on October 3, 2018.

District Court Judge in San Jose, California, Lucy Koh dismissed the majority of the seven lawsuits against Tesla on Monday but accepted the lawsuit of Lešnik and Papeš, who are now allowed to look for documents and witnesses in order to be able to present their case before the court.

Lešnik claims that he came to the United States with a B-1 visa and that he worked 250 hours per month for less than 950 dollars, which is well below the minimum wage. The lawsuit claims that foreign workers were threatened by deportation and the reduction of salaries if they got sick or reported injuries. The lawsuit filed by Lešnik and Papeš in 2016 calls for the collective lawsuit of all foreigners with B-1 visas who work for American car producers.

Judge Koh remarked that her verdict was based on the careful reading of the partly incomprehensible lawsuit, adding that accusations against Tesla were remarkably detailed. She has rejected a request to dismiss the lawsuits against Tesla’s subcontractors Eisenmann Corp. and ISM Vuzem. She also rejected Tesla’s and Eisenman’s claims that they were not responsible for the alleged exploitation of workers since it had been committed by Vuzem. Koh explained her decision by claiming that parties who financially benefit from others’ breaches of regulations also bear legal responsibility for them.

Tesla announced that they have investigated the allegations from the lawsuit and terminated their business relationship with ISM Vuzem because it did not meet their expectations. We have also improved our supplier contracts and measures in order to more effectively end bad behaviour, said the company.

Tesla is just one of several car producers listed in the lawsuit, but the judge accepted the lawsuit only against that company because the plaintiffs stated that deportation was threatened only at Tesla’s plants in Fremont, California.

Workers have been complaining about low levels of safety at Tesla’s plants for a long time, which the company denies. Workers also point out that long shifts and pressure to speed up deliveries are taking their toll, and some have demanded the establishment of a trade union branch office in the company.

The acceptance of the lawsuit against Tesla coincided with the pressure on the company to finally start bringing in profit, as well as with Elon Musk’s resignation as chairman of the board, motivated by his desire to respond to regulator’s claims that he had hurt his investors.

Translated from


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