Tesla’s had something of a rough go lately. Long the disruptive darling of both the automotive and tech worlds, the automaker has struggled to ramp up production of its new Model 3 sedan to meet its self-stated targets, and in addition to facing numerous worker lawsuits over alleged discrimination, it is now facing questions and criticism over the allegedly performance-related firings of hundreds of employees. As to how that last point was reported in the press, CEO and founder Elon Musk did not mince words.
During a conference call with investors tonight where Musk addressed both the Model 3's production problems and the company’s record $619 million quarterly loss, he yelled “SHAME” at the journalists who covered the firings, according to our own Ryan Felton, who was on the call, and numerous other reporters listening in.
Musk said that in the context of things, 700 employees being fired out of a 33,000-strong workforce isn’t that big a deal—especially, given that it says they were for standard performance reviews that happen on a yearly basis—and that compared to other companies was a fairly standard move.
But critics have decried the firings as being a move to disrupt possible unionization efforts and not really performance-related the way Tesla has said. There’s also now an active lawsuit, first reported by Jalopnik, that hits at the very issue at-hand: whether or not Tesla violated state law, requiring them to give employees 60 days notice of their termination.
Musk was apparently not happy about this:
The company’s strategy in dealing with critical stories has been especially aggressive while the Model 3 has been in its so-called “production hell.”
In response to a Wall Street Journal story about Model 3 parts being made by hand, Tesla said in a statement “For over a decade, the WSJ has relentlessly attacked Tesla with misleading articles that, with few exceptions, push or exceed the boundaries of journalistic integrity.”
And in a statement in response to The Guardian’s story on discrimination lawsuits filed against Tesla by workers, the automaker said “We are disappointed that The Guardian, a corporation that ironically have a track record of proven discrimination, is displaying a complete lack of journalistic integrity by misrepresenting this matter to generate clicks.”