Former Tesla employees sue the company alleging discrimination, harassment, and a system where SolarCity employees faked sales numbers

  • Three former Tesla energy salespeople claim they were subject to harassment, discrimination, and inadequate pay in a lawsuit against the company filed on July 25 in San Diego County Superior Court.
  • The plaintiffs also claim some of their colleagues created fake sales accounts that inflated their bonuses and deceived investors and shareholders.
  • A Tesla representative told Business Insider the plaintiffs' claims of mistreatment and fraud are untrue.


Three former Tesla energy salespeople claim they were subject to harassment, discrimination, and inadequate pay in a lawsuit against the company filed on July 25 in San Diego County Superior Court. The plaintiffs also claim some of their colleagues created fake sales accounts that inflated their bonuses and deceived investors and shareholders.

A Tesla representative told Business Insider the plaintiffs' claims of mistreatment and fraud are untrue.

"Tesla is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind by or against anyone, and we take any concerns raised by employees very seriously, as we did here. In this case, the facts simply don’t support the plaintiffs’ story," the representative said.

Two of the three plaintiffs, Andrew Staples and Robert Ray, began working for Tesla's energy sales division, previously named SolarCity, before it was acquired by the company for $2.6 billion in November 2016. The lawsuit does not specify when the third plaintiff, Anqunetta White, was hired. Each was let go around May 2017, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that some energy salespeople created fake sales accounts that allowed them to receive unwarranted bonuses and led to "an unreasonably high valuation of SolarCity."

A Tesla representative said the company investigated Staples' allegations about false sales and determined it was not true. 

"We have seen absolutely nothing that suggests there were 'fake potential sales accounts' as claimed in the lawsuit," the representative said.

The plaintiffs were allegedly subject to harassment and discrimination

The lawsuit alleges that Staples was subject to harassment and homophobic slurs from a supervisor based on his sexual orientation. According to the lawsuit, Staples informed multiple managers and Musk about the alleged mistreatment, but the managers didn't punish the supervisor. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Staples was prevented from making sales in some cases and was let go "under a false pretext" in May 2017.

A Tesla representative said Staples did not alert the company to any instances of discrimination or harassment based on his sexual orientation while he worked there.

Ray was subject to age discrimination, the lawsuit alleges. According to the lawsuit, Ray was 59 when he was let go and, while he was allegedly told his position was being eliminated, the lawsuit claims. Ray said he believes he was replaced by an employee who was under 30. Ray, Staples, and the third plaintiff, Anqunetta White, were not paid for all the hours they worked, the lawsuit alleges, and in some cases were told to underreport their hours on their timesheets.

A Tesla representative said White and other applicable employees were found to have been paid properly, and that White declined a request to submit a list of unpaid hours to Tesla. The representative also said the plaintiffs were let go as part of the company's decision to end SolarCity's door-to-door sales channel.

"The plaintiffs’ roles were eliminated last year when, as part of Tesla’s integration with SolarCity, we decided to close our door-to-door sales channel for energy products – a decision that was announced publicly and covered extensively in the media – and the suggestion that they were eliminated for any other reason is false," the representative said.

Other Tesla employees have alleged being subject to racial and sexual harassment while working at the company, and other former salespeople have claimed they were not adequately paid

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