Former Tesla Safety Director Sues Over Termination

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
former tesla safety director sues over termination

An increasingly murky legal battle has pitted one-time Tesla safety director Carlos Ramirez against his former employer.

In his lawsuit against the automaker, Ramirez claims he was terminated after exposing improper logging of workplace injuries, lending weight to a report published by Reveal earlier this year. Tesla says Ramirez’s firing had nothing to do with his safety findings and everything to do with his behavior towards fellow employees.

The lawsuit, exposed by Jalopnik, claims that Ramirez, who took on the role of Director of Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability at Tesla after serving a similar function at Tesla subsidiary SolarCity, was terminated after presenting the results of a safety audit of the automaker’s Fremont, California assembly plant.

Ramirez had been asked to create a safety program for the plant. In the suit, he says trouble arose after an audit of the Tesla Incident Reporting System showed “numerous instances of lack of treatment of Tesla employees that suffered workplace injuries, recordkeeping violations, and improper classification of workplace injuries to avoid treating and reporting workplace injuries.”

In addition to the alleged injury reporting discrepancies, Ramirez claims the Fremont plant was home to unsafe working conditions, which included oil spills and chemical fires.

The former safety director says, after revealing his findings to Tesla at a May 7, 2017 meeting, the automaker “made allegedly untrue statements to the state and the public based on incorrect OSHA 300 records and incident rate numbers.”

Tesla terminated Ramirez the following month. The suit alleges, “Among other adverse employment actions, Tesla wrongfully accused Plaintiff of bullying, brought unfounded complaints against him, and terminated Plaintiff’s employment on June 8, 2017.”

In a response to Jalopnik, a Tesla spokesperson said Ramirez, who was with the company for “less than four months,” was brought on to beef up the company’s safety program, and that terminating him for fulfilling this task “would make no sense.”

Instead, Tesla says the termination came about after an investigation into the claimant’s behavior.

“Mr. Ramirez was terminated because after an extensive investigation, it was clear that he had engaged over and over again in harassing workplace behavior and used extremely inappropriate language that violated any reasonable standard,” the Tesla spokesperson said. “We conducted our investigation after we received an onslaught of complaints about Mr. Ramirez’s behavior, with nearly a dozen different employees stating that he engaged in clear bullying, sought to intimidate his colleagues, and repeatedly made inappropriate comments about women.”

The company then detailed specific complaints it says were lodged against Ramirez. The claimant’s allegations of possible labor law violations went unmentioned in the statement.

[Image: Tesla]

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4 of 12 comments
  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Jun 12, 2018

    "...and repeatedly made inappropriate comments about women.” Well, that tears it. He violated the 0th commandment. He should drop his lawsuit now. . .

  • Turf3 Turf3 on Jun 12, 2018

    Here's my theory: The safety director discovers a bunch of stuff not being done right. Being a crusty old manufacturing guy not a Silicon Valley nu-male, he starts leaning on people to clean up their act, using phrases like "you blankety-blank, you need to get this blank cleaned up right blank now or your blank is out of here!" When, instead of backing him up, upper management instructs him to whitewash the safety risks and violations he is trying to get fixed, he responds with statements like "you blankety-blanks are just trying to cover this blank up. Just you wait till some poor blank gets his head crushed or burned to a crisp, and then the blank is really gonna hit the blanking fan! If you blankety-blanks think I'm gonna sit her and be your blanking fall guy, you got another blanking think coming!" Whereupon suddenly they discover that he's being abusive and using improper language. How much you want to bet it went down pretty close to what I'm describing? Once again the Silicon Valley arrogance comes through. "We don't need to actually learn anything about how to make automobiles in a mass production factory; we're from the Bay Area, about which the universe revolves, so we already know everything there is to know!"

  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.
  • HunterS This thing has had more farewell tours than Cher.