Home News Court Ruling Proves Elon Musk Violated Federal Labor Law with 2018 Tweet

Court Ruling Proves Elon Musk Violated Federal Labor Law with 2018 Tweet

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In 2018, a court found that Elon Musk broke the US labor law after he tweeted that if Tesla factory workers decided to unionize, they would not get stock options. This decision was made by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday and was also confirmed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). So basically, Musk had made some very serious threats about taking away employees’ bonuses as punishment for their decision about joining a union.

In May 2018, someone asked Elon Musk (via Twitter) if he believes in unions. He said that it’s okay for the people working at his company’s car plant to unionize; they could do so tomorrow if they wanted. However, he pointed out that this comes with paying extra money for dues, giving up stock options and wouldn’t bring any additional benefits since the plant already has a better safety record than when it was a part of the UAW and everyone is already provided with health care.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted something in 2018, which caught the attention of labor activists. Later in 2021, the United Auto Workers union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They claimed that Musk had threatened employees with his tweet. Tesla argued that Musk had meant to point out that workers at other car companies don’t get stock options. However, NLRB Chair Wilma Liebman thought differently. She said that employees would interpret the tweet as a warning – if they choose to unionize, they may not be able to have access to stock options anymore.

The Fifth Circuit Court agreed with the NLRB’s decision. They said that offering stock options is a kind of payment for Tesla’s employees, and Tesla’s tweet did not show that they would need to stop giving out stock options or that it was because of the UAW (Union). Therefore, this tweet can be seen as a warning that Tesla might take away their stock options if their employees join the union.

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A court recently told Elon Musk (Tesla’s head) that he must delete a tweet he made. Even after the ruling, he still has not taken down the post yet. Meanwhile, the Fifth Circuit Court said that Tesla must rehire Richard Ortiz, an employee that was dismissed from the company for organizing protests at its factory located in California.

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