Tech companies are always in search of making new products faster, smaller, more efficient. Many consumers follow along, standing in line to buy the newest phone even if their previous version is still working perfectly fine. Unfortunately, many tech companies treat older tech like they treat older workers. Under the misconception that older workers are slower and lack new ideas, some tech companies look for ways to force out older workers.
Tesla is the latest tech company to face allegations of age discrimination. Tesla is the American car company headed by the inventor and business magnate Elon Musk. The company is looking to change the automobile market with their popular electric vehicles and autopilot driving functions.
Thomas Flessner, now 69, first started working with Tesla in a contract position in 2012. He was later hired as a materials engineer at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. During his time with the company, Flessner says he felt isolated by his coworkers and supervisors because of his age. He continued to face unfair comments and criticism about his age and his work with the company.
After Flessner returned from taking time off to have surgery for congestive heart failure, he faced warnings by a former supervisor that, “these guys are gunning for you.” He was working with his supervisor to improve his reviews with the company but instead he was fired a few months later. Now Flessner is taking his case to court, alleging age discrimination by the tech company.
According to the complaint, Flessner's supervisor singled him out by canceling meetings, ignoring his work, and treating him more harshly than younger co-workers. “The younger engineers were not criticized for the speed of their work,” the complaint states, “even though they did not accomplish their projects any faster than plaintiff.”
Tesla responded to the lawsuit, “While we aren't commenting on the specifics of this litigation, we are committed to upholding a discrimination-free workplace.”
Tesla is not the only tech company accused of age discrimination. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook reportedly told people at a startup event at Stanford University in 2007, “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical.” Even going so far as to say, “young people are just smarter.”
The talk show host Bill Maher called ageism, “the last acceptable prejudice in America.” As a result, older tech company employees often find themselves the first to be cut in company “reorganizations,” unable to find another job because companies are looking for “new graduates.” In some cases, tech companies are not even hiding the fact that what they are doing may amount to illegal age discrimination.
If you or a family member have been discriminated against by your employer, it is important to speak out so that this kind of mistreatment does not go. If an employer is retaliating against you, they may be doing the same thing to others. Speak with an experienced employment law attorney who understands your rights and will fight to protect your job. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.