In Arizona and the rest of the nation, it is illegal for companies to retaliate against workers for engaging in protected activity, including reporting illegal behavior. It is also illegal for companies to discriminate against workers based on their protected characteristics. Recently, a California man filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the company discriminated against him based on his race and national origin and retaliated against him for complaining about a supervisor’s alleged theft of auto parts.
According to the complaint, the man worked for Tesla in Fremont, California. He says that he received good performance evaluations until 2017 when he reported that a supervisor was stealing auto parts from the company. After that, he received negative performance evaluations and was fired.
The man also claims that other workers who were of Hispanic heritage received worse performance evaluations than he did but were able to keep their jobs. He alleges that the company favored Hispanic workers over him. The man is reportedly Asian. Tesla stated that the man’s lawsuit is nonsensical and says that there is no record that he ever complained about internal thefts. The company also said that the man worked on a very diverse team and that a sizable number of its employees at the plant are also Asian.
While at-will terminations are generally legal, employers must not discharge employees based on a prohibited reason. Employers are not allowed to fire employees based on their race or other protected characteristic. They are forbidden from retaliating against workers who have engaged in protected activities, including reporting criminal behavior by their employers. People who believe that their terminations were wrongful and based on protected characteristics or were retaliatory might want to talk to experienced employment lawyers.
Source: Jalopnik, “Lawsuit: Tesla fired employee after he complained about manager stealing auto parts,” Ryan Felton, May 18, 2018.