Tesla responds to harassment lawsuit filed by female engineer in 2016

The Guardian published a new interview with Tesla engineer and current employee AJ Vandermeyden on Tuesday, wherein Vandermeyden lays out what she sees as a history of discriminatory treatment in a male-dominated work environment. Vandermeyden’s new statements were made in the context of a suit she filed last year against Tesla, and follow major revelations at Uber of systemic harassment issues at the ride-hailing company.

Vandermeyden says that she was often the only woman in meetings with as many as 40 or 50 employees, and also told the Guardian that all C-level exec positions are occupied by men, with only two VP positions out of more than 30 held by women. Vandermeyden’s complaint regarding her own treatment revolves around being passed up for promotions, along with other female employees, in favor of men who were equally or less qualified.

She also notes that she specifically came up with a unique solution to a quality testing oversight, missed by more senior employees and supervisors, but that this did not prevent other male employees from being promoted above her. Vandermeyden also detailed a 2015 incident in which a group of multiple male colleagues where “whistling” and “hooting and hollering” at her and a female coworker from a platform above as they passed by.

Vandermeyden also echoed some of the concern expressed by Uber employees regarding that company’s use of its human resources department, but she also maintains that she agrees with Tesla’s overall vision, and “really [does] believe they are doing great things.”

When contacted, Tesla provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding the new statements made by Vandermeyden to the Guardian:

Tesla is committed to creating a positive workplace environment that is free of discrimination for all our employees. Ms. Vandermeyden joined Tesla in a sales position in 2013, and since then, despite having no formal engineering degree, she has sought and moved into successive engineering roles, beginning with her work in Tesla’s paint shop and eventually another role in General Assembly. Even after she made her complaints of alleged discrimination, 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. When Ms. Vandermeyden first brought her concerns to us over a year ago, we immediately retained a neutral third party, Anne Hilbert of EMC2Law, to investigate her claims so that, if warranted, we could take appropriate action to address the issues she raised. After an exhaustive review of the facts, the independent investigator determined that Ms. Vandermeyden’s “claims of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation have not been substantiated.” Without this context, the story presented in the original article is misleading.

As mentioned, Tesla received a full report from its independent auditor that suggested no substantial basis for Vandermeyden’s claims in its findings. The legal action remains ongoing, and Vandermeyden remains a Tesla employee.