Tesla Manager in Boston Claims Musk Operated a Sweaty Shop and Fired Him

Former Tesla regional service manager Benjamen Simon filed a complaint in US District Court claiming the electric vehicle company did not install air conditioning in the bay of its service shop in Peabody, Massachusetts, creating an unsafe working environment for technicians during heat waves. Simon alleges repeatedly urging management to install air conditioning, but was informed that the finance department would not approve the necessary budget. Simon claims he was fired in retaliation for his complaints, and is seeking damages for lost wages, lost benefits, stock options, and emotional distress. He is seeking between $2.7 million and $10 million in damages, prompting Tesla to transfer the case to federal court. Tesla denies wrongdoing in the matter.

Simon’s complaint alleges that the dangerous heat situation “did not improve” and that “Tesla disregarded Simon’s safety complaints.” Simon further claims that he was stripped of three of the eight dealerships he supervised and ultimately fired in retaliation for his pursuit of the issue. California law, which governs Simon’s complaint, prohibits retaliatory firings for reporting serious workplace concerns.

Tesla denies Simon’s allegations and alleges that he was not entitled to any relief whatsoever in the matter.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. Specific requirements depend on the particular hazards of the working conditions, such as high heat or direct sun exposure. OSHA does not have a specific temperature requirement, but does provide guidelines for employers to follow when working in high-heat environments. Employers are expected to provide coolant, air conditioning or areas that are designated as cooler, rest periods, and regular communication with employees about heat-related hazards.

Heat-related illness can be deadly and includes symptoms such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Employees who work outdoors or in areas without ventilation or air conditioning are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

If Simon’s allegations are proven to be true, Tesla may face severe penalties for violating workplace safety regulations. Companies with unsafe working conditions can also experience significant damage to their reputation and financial standing, as lawsuits and negative media attention can undermine trust in the company and lower profitability.