Tesla Firings Hit SolarCity Hard

OCT 27 2017 BY MARK KANE 103

The significant layoff of employees at Tesla reported two weeks ago, are also affecting the company’s SolarCity subsidiary – perhaps even to a greater extent.

SolarCity in the former sunny days

According to CNBC, which talked with several SolarCity employees, hundreds were fired under the pretense of performance review results.

The problem, at least according to some of those employees,is that those reviews never took place.

States CNBC:

“Echoing reports from earlier this month, these SolarCity employees say they were surprised to be told they were fired for performance reasons, claiming Tesla had not conducted performance reviews since acquiring the solar energy business.”

“Three recently fired SolarCity employees (who worked in disparate city offices, and were contacted separately by CNBC) said they asked HR at Tesla for a copy of their performance reviews. But those never materialized.”

In total, 205 employees were laid off at SolarCity’s Roseville, California, office alone. Apparently hundreds were affected in several states across the country.

“The total number of dismissals could not be determined. However, former employees estimate around 1,200 people have been fired in the company’s wave of dismissals at Tesla including SolarCity. That figure does not include previously announced layoffs.”

source: CNBC

Categories: Tesla


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103 Comments on "Tesla Firings Hit SolarCity Hard"

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Perhaps this explains why the 3KW expansion to my existing system installed by SolarCity over three months ago has still not received PTO from PG&E.

PTO is based on the utility, not SolarCity or any other solar company.

No, it is all on PG&E and they take their sweet time. Did they renegotiated the original contract or nothing changed between you and PG&E?

i’m being moved from NEM 1.0 to NEM 2.0 because of the addition to my original solar system. i suspect pg&e is having a tough time processing which is the source of the delay. however, since the layoff there has been no communication from tesla/solarcity. kind of annoying at this point it’s been three months and the peak season for production this year has now passed.

I’ve been waiting a year for solar and power wall 2

I don’t live in the USA, so please enlighten me…

Is the problem that they were dishonest with employees or are people accusing Tesla of violating labour laws?

In some countries, to fire someone for performance requires a lengthy process that includes a paper trail of how the person was offered assistance to correct performance issues and didn’t.

Given this is California it would be labor laws. There are notification and timing (wait period) requirements in California for layoffs over a certain size.

But firing someone for cause (their own poor performance) is not a layoff and so isn’t covered under those laws.

Some are accusing Tesla of pretending layoffs are firings due to performance to skirt the labor laws. If true it is a serious thing. But personally I feel we’d need more investigation to establish if it is true.

Just based on the news reports it does seem highly likely that is the case.

I mean how in the heck can you hire people for performance reasons when their last performance was fine and they don’t have any notes in their HR file for performance issues since the last review and oh they haven’t actually gotten this years performance review done??

No way about it, how they’ve done things seems pretty shady. Do they not have people that would see things as they clearly are going to be taken?

Maybe these people truly are poor performers but if you’re going to fire people for that you better make damn sure you’ve documented it.

But that’s the point, DJ; why would Tesla do such a foolish thing? If they called it a layoff, then those workers terminated wouldn’t have any legitimate reason to file a grievance or contemplate a lawsuit. If Tesla claims to have fired someone due to poor performance without ever giving them a performance review, then Tesla would basically basically pasting a big “SUE ME” sign on the company’s back.

It’s very hard for me to believe that Tesla’s Board of Directors would agree to such a foolish policy, or that Tesla’s legal department wouldn’t strongly advise against such a business practice.

Occam’s Razor suggests this is just another rumor, and that there is little if any truth to it. Given all the false charges against Tesla which we’ve been seeing lately from union activists, I suspect this is more of the same.

It could be that Tesla is willing to settle the raft of wrongful termination suits that is bound to head their way because to do so would be cheaper than the negative PR (and subsequent stock drop) that would be associated with their admission that a layoff was happening. This is especially critical in the current climate with so many questions swirling around the Tesla 3’s missed production numbers.

They do a lot of foolish things. I mean come’on you have to admit that.

None of us know one way or another the actual true story but isn’t it pretty suspect that Tesla comes out and says they’re firing a bunch of people for performance reasons yet they don’t counter the claim from those that were fired that they didn’t have any negative performance marks on their employee file? Some of those fired have claimed they have requested their employee file to review the details of the alleged reasons but they aren’t getting anything back.

Tesla and Elon are PR machines. Why are they silent when being blatantly called out for something? Usually they have no problem responding but for some reason seem to in this particular case.

I think, as well as do others, that SC probably did need a restructuring. Call it what it is though.

And OMG WTF is wrong with this site. It’s painful to type!

DJ — post-merger, the new standards for acceptable performance are now the standards from the new owners.

The new owners ALWAYS go back and look at prior reviews and apply their own standards to what they consider satisfactory performance, and what they do not.

For example, a Solar City salesperson who closed $100K in sales may have gotten a satisfactory performance review under previous ownership. However, new ownership can certainly come in and set the new standard at $200K in sales, and release the employee for cause. Even if they met the targets that the old management had set for them.

This is all part of mergers and acquisitions and is normal and customary.

New reviews aren’t required. New ownership are certainly allowed to come in and re-evaluate the prior poor performance that led to the company being bought out in the first place, and they have wide latitude to set their own new standards. They can apply those standards to the prior work that led to the company being sold.

Again, this is normal and customary, and a reduction in force is EXPECTED post merger/acquisition.

This is just BS. Yes, surely when mergers happen the new whole company is looked at and where there are redundancies often people are let go. That’s completely different from firing people for performance reasons which implies that the people .

aren’t performing well. So how many people has Tesla laid off at SC vs how many people have they fired for poor performance reasons?

Since the intent to acquire/merge was announced, 3,000+ Solar City employees have been laid off, and according to this report 205 were fired for cause. This is entirely reasonable, and clearly they have no qualms doing layoffs when needed, so there is no reason why they wouldn’t continue with another 205 layoffs if they indeed needed to lay off another 205 after the initial 3000+ layoffs.

What is your justification for saying that they are lying to evade doing layoffs, when they have already done a full order of magnitude more in layoffs?

Please be specific about what you believe is BS in my post and I will gladly explain it for you. My entire post is factual, so if you question any specific part, please be specific.

“This is just BS.”

No, as usual Nix’s comments speak to the heart of the matter under discussion. And as usual, you’re just spewing out Tesla-hating FUD with no truth behind it at all.

There is a rather obvious reason why Tesla would choose to frame these terminations as performance-related firings rather than layoffs: massive layoffs as your company is supposedly ramping up for a critical new product would seriously undermine investor confidence.

Your argument doesn’t hold water, because Solar City ALSO had layoffs along with people being released for performance.

Actual institutional investors (who hold the vast majority of TSLA shares available for trading) all know to expect both layoffs and for cause force reductions post-merger. This is normal and customary, and entirely expected by actual professionals.

In fact, if anything, professional investors might look at these rif’s as too small.

I’m not sure why you think that undermines my logic instead of reinforcing it.

SolarCity employees are paid by Tesla (so savings are savings), and Tesla fired – not “laid off” – a bunch of SolarCity employees purportedly because of “poor reviews,” while many of these employees are alleging that there was no performance review at all.

The problem with your logic is that they have already gone through a full order of magnitude larger layoffs, so they have no incentive to suddenly claim that a much smaller number of cuts aren’t layoffs.

Especially since investors ALREADY expect layoffs and rif’s for poor performance whenever there is a merger or acquisition. Your claims that Tesla has some sort of motivation to falsify a few hundred firings for cause in order to hide layoffs from investors simply doesn’t hold water.

They absolutely have incentive to claim these aren’t layoffs, even for SolarCity. Employees who are laid off may receive unemployment benefits, which will directly raise Tesla’s CA unemployment tax rate; employees who are fired with cause may not receive them.

Tesla employs 33,000 people. 205 isn’t going to have any meaningful impact how much Tesla pays into unemployment insurance. Certainly not enough to justify violating any laws.

You seem to choose to remain willfully blind to how much of a rounding error this is to Tesla.

Please calculate and post what percent of Tesla’s workforce you believe this impacts before posting further. I would to the math for you, but you won’t actually believe it until you actually do the math for yourself.

So even though it’s mundane for employers contest unemployment benefits in individual cases to save money (when they believe benefits are not warranted), you’re claiming that 200 employees is not worth the savings?

And BTW, it’s not 200. It’s at least 900 when you include the previous round of “performance-related” firings. You cannot ignore the previous set of terminations, as it all works to the same end.

200, 900, you choose. Calculate what percent of Tesla’s 33,000 employee workforce that is, and post your calculation. Then we can have a nice rational discussion of whether it is meaningful or not.

You won’t believe the results until you do the math yourself.

bonus points: round your results to the nearest whole percent.

OK, let’s play this game.

900 is 3% of 33,000.
According to you, the increased unemployment taxes from laying off 3% of your workforce is too insignificant to care about.
Therefore, by your logic, any company that has ever contested unemployment benefits must have had less than 33 employees, because any more than that and the increase in taxes would have been too insignificant to care about.

And now it’s time for you to earn bonus points… how many CA companies with more than 33 employees have ever contested unemployment benefits for an individual? Here’s a hint: it’s more than zero.

Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying, because the incremental turnover rate for companies in general is actually 3% according to the BLS.

So they are dead on average according to the BLS, and would not suffer an abnormal penalty.

No, they aren’t going to break the law over being right at BLS averages for layoffs/firings.

No, 3% is not significant.

“…massive layoffs as your company is supposedly ramping up for a critical new product would seriously undermine investor confidence.”

Significant numbers of layoffs, which are normal following a merger, would erode investor confidence more than massive numbers of lawsuits for wrongful termination?

Really, that’s your argument? ::facepalm::

Why are you guys talking about the merger? The merger is over and done with since a long time ago. The problem is that SolarCity has had an unsustainable business model ever since they changed the incentive structure for solar, which is the reason why Elon had to bail them out in the first place.

The acquisition (or merger) was finalized on November 21, 2016, less than a year ago.

If that fits your definition of “a long time ago”… well, I guess we have different definitions.

Words are important in this instance. For example employee termination is not equal to employee layoff under California law. An at-will employee has relatively few rights. The following link provides a quick reference if you’re interested. Many Californian employees likely believe they have many more employment rights than they actually do as the website explains. http://www.atwillinfo.com/

You can’t collect unemployment if fired for cause. So companies try that tactic so that it doesn’t hit their unemployment insurance costs.

You are incorrect. It depends entirely on the cause. Simply not measuring up will not cause the employee to lose benefits. It has to be serious.

Is SolarCity headquartered in California?

Their manufacturing plant is in Buffalo, NY.

Pardon me for trying to engage in meaningful conversation of the subject. 🙄

Thanks for the helpful web browsing tip! ?

But I’m old school. If I cannot find it with AOL Keyword ‘SolarCity’ then I will check altavista.

Make sure you AskGeeves if you don’t get the info you’re looking for 🙂

Nonsense, that’s not Old School.

Old School is visiting your local library to look up the subject in the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature, then using a microfilm viewer to read the appropriate articles.

However, I’m forced to admit that using Google is… hmmm… slightly more convenient. 😉

Damn, I thought I was old school. But that…. That’s old old school.

And it wouldn’t matter if it weren’t in California, the layoffs (the 205 mentioned) are in California and thus fall under California labor law.

“Their manufacturing plant is in Buffalo, N.Y.”

Built and paid for by NY State taxpayers, ($750 million) and paying $1 a year rent, while being fully run by Panasonic and fully staffed with Panasonic employees…. For now at least.

unlucky said: “There are notification and timing (wait period) requirements in California for layoffs over a certain size.”

The transfer of ownership of a corporation is automatic notice in California. No further notice is needed. Layoffs and terminations are presumed in all cases of mergers and acquisitions. It is normal and customary when a company is bought out that there will be both layoffs due to restructuring, and firings for poor performance (even if the previous management had different performance standards).

Companies going through merger/acquisition are commonly excluded under 1402.5

Well, failing to notify because it’s customary to think 1402.5 could cover you would be risky because the section doesn’t say anything about acquisition and transfer of ownership.

You will also notice it explicitly says in 1402.5(d) that:

‘(d) This section does not apply to notice of a mass layoff as defined by subdivision (d) of Section 1400.’

So mass layoffs (over 50 people at a facility that has over 75) are explicitly not covered by 1402.5.

So it wouldn’t be wise to try to sneak this in under 1402.5.

Companies usually get out of that requirement by offering severance, and counting those people who take the severance as being part of a VSP (Voluntary Separation Plan). Those employees who take the severance are not counted towards that limit, because they are counted as to have voluntarily left their position.

These VSP’s typically contain a “payment-in-lieu-of-notice” clause that will specifically waive “without limitation, the Federal Worker Retaining and Notification Act, and similar state laws, including without limitation Section 1400 of California Labor Code, et seq.”

This is actually covered in case law, and as you know, statutory law is only the tip of the iceberg of binding law, with case law representing the vast majority of binding rulings that are not addressed directly in the text of the statutory legislation itself. No, I am not willing to quote case law just because you don’t want to accept a well-known loophole that “you could drive a Webvan truck through”.


If you want to dig through the case law to understand this well known loophole, please be my guest.

Why do you bring up payment in lieu of notice when not payments were made here? Nor was this voluntary. Nor were these layoffs, according to Tesla.

There is no loophole that says you can call layoffs firings for cause to avoid the California WARN act. And thus no pithy statement about Webvan applies.

If Tesla called layoffs firings for cause they are in violation of the California WARN Act under case law or enacted law.

If the had called these layoffs then they could also to try to claim somehow their mass layoffs required no notice. But they didn’t call these layoffs. They portray them as firings for cause.

The CNBC source article stated that they got severances. See the link on this page to the source article:

“[Tesla] sent them separation agreements. These agreements force ex-employees of Tesla into arbitration if they want severance pay. In other words, they have to sign away the rights to sue the company for two weeks’ worth of salary.”

Again, if you want to dig into it further, be my guest. I’ve covered the legalities.

I realize that you intensely refuse to accept anything I say about anything I post, but at some point you need to dig into it yourself if you want to understand. Don’t ask me do to your homework.

I didn’t ask you to do my homework.

If they don’t sign the agreement they don’t get money but they still are fired. Thus no money is GIVEN. The money is an exchange.

If you are fired either way and your choice is to take money in exchange for signing an agreement or not take money and be gone anyway then you are not getting payment in lieu of notification. You are getting fired whether you get payment or not.

Give it up.


Technically, they are given the chance to enter into a VSP before they are actually fired. Or at least that is how it is widely recognized under the law. Obviously a VSP is meaningless if you are already fired, and they wouldn’t actually be getting a severance package (as detailed on the CNBC link at the bottom of this story).

I’m sorry you don’t understand that the VSP is typically widely accepted, so the loophole that I linked to works.

Like I said, please do your homework. I’ve already provided you links to get you started. If you want to understand it is all out there.

But you have repeatedly in story after story shown absolutely no sign of ever actually wanting to understand, even when spoon fed everything. You instead come back with zero sources, and ignore when I provide sources that prove you wrong, and simply pretend you never said stuff that is proven wrong.

Go do your own homework, and you will see it is all exactly as I’ve told you, and exactly as the sources I’ve provided all say.

You’re assuming its a layoff when the employee reduction was stated to be termination of the employee (not termination of the facility/location).

From your link, section 1400c – “Layoff” means a separation from a position for lack of funds or lack of work. Tesla isn’t claiming this. So even if headcount reduction is greater than 50 it is not a “mass layoff” per section 1400d.

I am not a lawyer, even what little I know about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests that if — if — Tesla is giving false reasons for firings, then they are practically begging to be sued for wrongful termination. And if it’s a widespread action, that would be either a class action lawsuit or multiple lawsuits they would have to defend against at the same time.

But I consider that a very big “if” indeed. Why would Tesla do something so foolish, something that would so obviously leave it exposed to multiple lawsuits?

No, I suspect what we see here is just more rumors from Tesla haters, perhaps aided and abetted by union activist propaganda. The UAW is clearly very unhappy with losing the vote to unionize Tesla’s Fremont plant, and is spewing out all sorts of propaganda and false charges.

Frankly when your employer fires you for BS reasons that likely makes you a Tesla hater so it’s kind of a self fulfilling prophecy.

From everything that people have come out and said, especially the whole Solar City firing they’re being terminated for performance reasons yet they have no mark on their file nor any recent performance review that would indicate performance issues whatsoever.

You’re not addressing any of the points I made. You are apparently assuming that all of the charges here are 100% real and correct; that none of it is rumor or propaganda.

Isn’t that rather naive of you?

Huh? I am actually not assuming anything. I fully admit to not knowing the actual story however the claims from Tesla vs those from lots of people that have been fired don’t seem to mesh and given their refusal to even comment on them given that they seem to comment on everything seems suspect.

You on the other hand seem to think this is some attack by the Tesla haters and the UAW and Tesla must be innocent. Talk about naive! Clearly it’s the Tesla shorters who are putting these “rumors” out there. Is that what we call a rumor today? When someone is fired and comes out with a ton of other people and say they previously got a review that was fine and have since had no negative marks or performance review so they don’t see how it can be for performance reasons we call that a rumor?

It would be illegal for Tesla to release individual reasons for firing employees for cause. So I’m not sure what you think can happen here.

Employees are allowed to go out and say they were the best employee in the world, even if they knew they were fired for cause.

Tesla is not allowed to respond and say that specific employee was actually a poor performer, who’s poor performance prior management let slide. The new owner is not bound by the prior standards of the previous ownership when determining what employees meet the new owner’s standards.

We won’t actually ever have a concrete answer, and Tesla will never open up their files for everybody to see.

Keep in mind that union activists know this too. So you have to decide for yourself how much you are willing to believe. Like when UAW organized a protest march of former Tesla employees. The UAW activists knew that Tesla could not speak out about individual employee’s claims. And that they could say anything they wanted (short of actual defamation) without fear of Tesla releasing records that prove their claims wrong.

DJ said:

“Clearly it’s the Tesla shorters who are putting these ‘rumors’ out there.”

Yes, that’s entirely clear. That’s the purpose of every one of the numerous comments you’ve posted in this thread, and so many others.

So thanks for proving my point, Mr. FUDster.

There is another real possibility for their actions. Cash flow. They’re feeling the heat from expanding too far too fast and the Model 3 is delayed, so not bringing in the money they expected now. Firing a bunch of people and not laying them off, is their fastest way of saving money immediately.

Any way you look at it, it’s a douche bag move on Tesla’s part. If it’s about saving money it makes them look desperate, with little to no loyalty, or appreciation towards their employees. If it’s about getting rid of union agitators as you suggest, it makes them look tyrannical and hypocritical given what Elon has espoused in the past.

I think this mass firing is going seriously come back to bite them in the butt no matter their motives.

Dav8or, if cashflow were the problem, Tesla wouldn’t have promoted 17% of their other roughly 33,000 workers. They would have had a promotion freeze. They also wouldn’t currently be hiring more people in other positions.

And the cuts would have had to be much, much deeper if they were done for cashflow reasons. This number of employees is simply a rounding error in Tesla’s total cashflow every quarter.

“I think this mass firing is going seriously come back to bite them in the butt no matter their motives.”

And when it does not — because this is almost certainly just the latest round of FUD bull pucky from Tesla haters, stock shorters, and now UAW union activists — are you going to acknowledge your error?

No, of course you won’t. Just like all the other Tesla haters, you’ll simply move on to promoting the next fake news story about Tesla.

In the US it varies by state, but the vast of majority of states (including California) are “at-will”, meaning an employer can fire any employee for any reason or no reason whatsoever, with no advance notice, unless there’s a specific contract in place saying otherwise; employment contracts are actually very rare in the US, outside unionized workplaces.
“At-will” is symmetrical — an employee may also leave for any reason, with no notice.

Aside from that, the only worker protections are Federal, but that relates mostly to “protected groups” — it’s illegal to fire for reasons of race/ethnicity/religion.

I expect Tesla employees didn’t have employment contracts, so there wouldn’t be a legal issue — but some states do have a “fair dealing” policy.

Even in an at-will state, you cannot fire someone for illegal reasons. For example, Elon Musk cannot fire his secretary for refusing to have sex with him.

Tesla could have fired all these employees for “no cause” and that would have been perfectly legal. But Tesla management has to explain their actions to the shareholders, and they chose to frame it as performance-related. That has two major repercussions for the former employees:

1) When future employers ask if they have ever been fired with cause, they would have to say yes (or risk future trouble if discovered otherwise)

2) Having been fired with cause, these employees are not eligible for unemployment checks (which also saves Tesla money)

This represents significant material harm to these employees if they were not actually fired with cause, and would give them grounds for a lawsuit even in an at-will state.

Dan, you said “Tesla management has to explain their actions to the shareholders”.

No, that is not true. By law, Tesla actually CANNOT reveal details of individual employee performance to the public, including shareholders.

Buying a share of Tesla stocks does NOT give you access to individual personnel files. That would be absurd.

I never said they had to provide performance reviews to shareholders (because that’s a ridiculous idea). I said that Tesla management had to provide SOME explanation for why several hundred employees were simultaneously terminated, as they cannot simply say “no reason.”

The explanation Tesla management gave was that the terminations were the result of poor performance reviews. This is as opposed to other potential explanations for large-scale terminations, e.g. layoffs.

No, they don’t. A cut of 205 employees out of 33,000 would not trigger the need to issue an SEC 8-K report to keep investors current.

Calculate the percent of workforce that represents, and you will see how trivial it is to shareholder interests.

Tesla has no such obligation to shareholders either at the individual level, or on the macroeconomic level.

This is not the first time you have attempted to insert regulatory requirements into a discussion when no such thing was suggested.

At no point have I claimed, or even implied, that Tesla is legally required to provide individual performance reviews to shareholders, or that they are legally obligated to file regulatory forms for these terminations. I am saying that a layoff of several hundred employees necessitates SOME statement of explanation in order to avoid panicking investors.

In other words, Tesla cannot simply fire several employees with no explanation as to the reason, without risking a collapse of their stock.

No, Tesla has no obligation to pander to any investors who may panic. Tesla aren’t baby-sitters for colicky investors. Investors They are obligated ONLY to keep investors current with SEC mandated reports. There are NO obligations outside of required SEC reports. That is what SEC mandated reports mean. They are the sum and total of Tesla’s obligation to shareholders. Nothing more, nothing less.

A cut of 205 employees out of 33,000 would not trigger the need to issue an SEC 8-K report or any other report to keep investors current.

I’m sorry you don’t understand that Tesla has no obligation outside of what SEC regulations require they disclose to investors. Thus the ONLY relevant measure of what Tesla is “Required” to do is what is outlined in SEC regs.

I’m sorry you can’t do math, and understand how insignificant 205 out of 33,000 employees is, and that this does not trigger a disclosable event to shareholders.

Again, you are trying to smokescreen this discussion by redirecting to what is required by law; an argument no one is making.

Tesla doesn’t have to do anything other than what is required by law.

You can keep saying Tesla has to do this that or the other thing until you are blue in the fact. But until they are actually REQUIRED that they SHALL do something under the law, all of your claims are baseless.

Tesla doesn’t have to do anything to baby-sit stock holders other than what is required by law. You can’t fabricate obligations of any type that aren’t based on the law.

I’m sorry you can’t understand that Tesla is free to do as they want unless otherwise restrained by law, and that you are incapable of understanding what the rule of law means.

They don’t have to do jack that you say they have to do.

F150 Brian:

Basically if they do “layoff”, they need to notify in advance, and later pay significant money as unemployment benefit tax.

Firing for performance avoids it. It has consequences for the fired persons though. Further employment, unemployment benefits. Firing for fraudulent “review” reasons when it should be layoff is mean to these employees and it is asking for lawsuit. Which is already happening. Firing for wearing of some union tags or union association as some fired people claimed may be illegal.

You are correct. Sadly, the Tesla accounting department and the Tesla legal department got together and estimated how much it will cost them is settlements. Likely they are willing to pay that for whatever reason they did this very low and shady maneuver.

Still, Tesla is like Trump in that to their unwavering followers and fans, they can do no wrong no matter what. Like Trump, Elon could shoot somebody in the face and they would come up with a reasoning as to why it’s all OK.

And this, EV fans, shows just how low and despicable Tesla haters are willing to go in attacking Tesla and Elon Musk; to descend to the level of actually trying to say Elon Musk is morally equivalent to the Orange Wannabe Dictator.

It’s too bad this troll is using up oxygen.

Most states in the U.S. have “At-Will” employment. What this means is that although it’s considered unprofessional to do so, an employee may quit at any time, with or without notice or reason.
Conversely, an employee may also be terminated at any time, with or without reason or notice.

So, in theory HR can be told “Reduce headcount by 10%.” at 10:00am, and employees could be leaving by 11:00.

So, saying “Performance reasons” is unnecessary whether it’s truth or fiction.

Solar City was in bad shape when they got acquired. Restructuring is welcome, from a customers point of view anyways. When Solar City quotes me a 6kW system for the price of a 10kW system back in 2015 I bought the 10kW system from an independent installer instead. Now I want to add powerwalls to it through tesla and they still send solar city people that are not fully tesla people yet, and I worry about seeing the same inefficiencies as back then. I hope they retrain who they keep and restructure for best customer experience.

I received a notification last week about joining a class action lawsuit against Solar City. The specific claim was that Solar City was contacting people illegally to try to sell them services.

I actually happened to be on their list to receive a call when they began servicing my area, which they still do not. I can’t recall ever actually receiving a call, but may have at some point.

I threw the notice in the garbage; however, would be very interested in joining in a CAL against the companies that constant call me trying to dubiously sell me an extended warranty on vehicles or refinance my home.

They likely contacted every single person in Solar City’s database of contacts, whether there is proof they were impacted or not. They are fishing for people to join their class action. It sounds like you didn’t bite…

I’d like to hear current Tesla employees’ thoughts on the layoffs/firings, anonymously of course. Or would they be too scared to talk?

But before we can have an educated guess, we need data on what roles were terminated, how many, affected product lines, locations, union “believers”, etc… I doubt we’ll get that info, but it makes me skeptical of Tesla’s explanation.

In ANY company, discussing individual personnel matters with the public would be a violation of confidentiality policies. HR matters on employment are considered confidential. Even just verifying that somebody even just worked at the company without proper authorization can be a violation.

If you work for a decent sized company, please read your employee manual, and it will cover what employment records are considered confidential.

Employees generally cannot discuss details around individual employees being terminated in any company. I doubt Tesla would be different.

What? A new parent company cleaning house after acquiring another company?!?!?

This never happens!! Nobody loses their job at a company when they are bought out by another company!!

/heavy sarc


Now back to reality.

The reality is that if your company is bought by another company, your job is HIGHLY at risk. You should expect to lose your job, and celebrate wildly if you do not. Poor performers and redundant workers are routinely let go post-buyout. This is nothing new, and certainly expected by anybody who is at all knowledgeable in the field of M&A.

There is no contradiction between the former Solar City layoffs due to positions becoming redundant, and firings for cause. The new management is certainly empowered to do both, and aren’t limited to just one or the other.

New management is empowered to come in and re-evaluate employees, even if they had gotten satisfactory reviews by old management. New management is NOT bound by the labor standards of the previous management as to what was previously considered satisfactory work history.

…except that the issue at hand is that Tesla is claiming that these terminations were the result of “poor reviews” when no such reviews ever took place. Tesla is desperately trying to avoid “layoffs” and is taking ethically questionable steps to do so.

If you want to know why industries end up getting unionized, Tesla is providing a master class right now… both in America, where non-union employees are being fired en masse under sketchy conditions, and in Germany, where union employees just received concessions (and a raise) from Tesla management.

1) We don’t have any proof that Tesla didn’t do new reviews.

2) When Tesla took ownership of Solar City, they didn’t need to do completely new reviews for work done in 2017. They were 100% free to go through ALL the prior years of existing reviews and judge for themselves whether each employee’s previous years of work meets Tesla’s standards. Even if that work was sufficient to meet standards set by Solar City in the past.

If you ever find yourself part of a company being merged or acquired by another company, expect to have your prior performance re-reviewed, with nothing in the past being set in stone. The judgements of prior management as to what was acceptable no longer apply.

One large California tech company who is known for buying other tech companies tells all the employees of the former company that they will get a package in the mail IF they are going to be retained.

The rules are different when there is a merger or acquisition.

So now a ‘couple hundred’ people released because of performance turns into ‘1200 or more’ when talking to several of the persons released. This smacks of fake news from sources trying to harm Tesla. Such as the UAW.

I’m no expert, but, wouldn’t their financial reporting show a line item for payroll? Did it go down by several millions?

It would be very hard to tell from quarterly reports, because while these people have been rif’ed, other people are getting hired in other parts of the company, and 17% of employees got merit based promotions.

Keep in mind that Tesla employs 33,000 people. Wages for a few hundred or so people getting let go would be a rounding error lost in normal turnover and normal raises. It would be completely lost in the overall numbers.

The article acknowledges the figures are estimates. But with 200 people at one location alone I don’t find the idea of 1200 nationwide to be difficult to believe.

Maybe by “fired for performance reasons”, what they really meant was due to the poor performance of Tesla to deliver products and make a profit? Not that the employees were performing poorly.

You do understand that with a failure to deliver, that sub-par performance of some employees might be a contributing factor to the delivery failure, right?

And therefore that the failure to deliver, and that employee’s contributing role in the failure to deliver, may be the exact documentation needed to justify a for-cause termination?

Because innocent employees NEVER take the fall for a failure of the company to perform.


That certainly happens. A company is the sum of their employees, so whenever something goes wrong, it all comes down to some employee or group of employees who are responsible. There is no alien headless “Company” entity who got something wrong, and usually there is plenty of blame to go around.

Whether everyone who touched the ball gets blamed, or the person who got stuck holding the ball last when the music stopped gets blamed, doesn’t really matter though in this context. Even partial blame justifies the for-cause firing.

It’s like the field goal kicker who only comes out for the last play of the game and misses (“laces out!!”) but gets blamed for the entire team losing the game. Is it really fair that a few seconds of a single missed shot causes fans to blame the kicker for blowing the game? And not the rest of the team that failed to score enough points that the game didn’t hinge on a single kick? That’s life.

In 2016 Solar City cut their workforce from 15,273 employees to 12,243 employees pre-merger. Now they have cut a few hundred more post-merger.

Is there anybody who seriously can’t view this rationally, and see that a reduction in force (with both layoffs and releasing poor performers) is business as usual when a company is being restructured under new ownership?

The employees were fired. In many States an employer can fire someone ‘at will’ with no cause required.

Further, as others have noted, if these were layoffs then they would be covered under labor law in some States, but there are clearly ‘terminations’ NOT layoffs.

Usually, based on my management and life experience (now retired), those who seek to organize are the malcontents in the organization seeking protection for their inadequacies via a union.

So if that is the case then firing negative or poorly performing employees who do little to advance company goals is desirable and just plain common sense. This is a business, not government agency.
It can’t collect taxes to cover up for incompetence.

Even in an at-will state, you cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason.

An employee who is listed as “fired with cause” but has not actually done anything to deserve it suffers material harm. If you do not have cause to fire them, you may still terminate them but you are legally required to state as such, as the claim “fired with cause” affects their ability to receive unemployment benefits (as well as potentially affecting future employment).

Dan, an employee’s eligibility to receive unemployment insurance benefits are not entirely based upon whether the employee was fired for cause or not.

They may still be eligible for unemployment if they were fired for cause for personality conflicts or for failing to meet workplace standards. They would only be ineligible for unemployment benefits if the firing for cause included official “Misconduct”.

To be clear, Tesla does NOT need to show “Misconduct” in order to fire for cause. The legal definition of “Misconduct” is very specific, and the employment office has the final say on what counts as “Misconduct”, not Tesla or the employee.

So you can be laid off or fired for cause (not including misconduct) and still be eligible for unemployment benefits.

There is no evidence either way that any of these employees were fired for “Misconduct”. Again, it is perfectly legal for Tesla for fire for cause with or without “Misconduct”.

At last, someone who points out the at-will employment status which exists in California. At-will employees can be terminated for any legal reason, or more to the point no reason at all. Very few employees have a contract of employment, in my experience only C-suite execs.

Many employees, as the comments on this article and many other similar articles show, believe they have far more employment rights than they actually do under at-will law. If others reading this don’t believe it then perhaps read the following? http://www.atwillinfo.com/

Any legal reason doesn’t include falsehoods. If they were said to be for cause but the cause listed is provably false then the employer is not terminating them for a legal reason and thus are at risk.

If these were layoffs, calling them firings for cause would be illegal. It also would be a violation of the WARN act I linked above, regardless of any at-will laws.

But again, without an investigation we don’t know the real situation. People who are fired are typically disgruntled, so you can’t just go off half-cocked from information from only that side.

With anything, if you falsify something you are going to be in trouble. Do you have any actual evidence that Tesla has falsified anything?

On the other hand, disagreement over what should be considered satisfactory performance would not count as a falsehood. If the employer says that they didn’t like how an employee interacted with coworkers, it wouldn’t be a case of “falsehoods” if the employee doesn’t agree with the employer.

And it doesn’t have to be anything as clear cut as cat-calls to female employees (I hope those a-holes were fired), it could be just not promoting a positive atmosphere. You can get cut for what you DIDN’T do as well as what you were documented to have done.

I think it is very, very highly presumptive for anybody who doesn’t have full access to the facts to start throwing around loaded words like “falsehoods”. That is implying something unlawful has happened without having a factual basis for that accusation. That is reckless.

Do your eyes not see the word if in there? No need to ask me an accusing question when I make clear what evidence I do and don’t have about this in my post.

No need to pretend you cannot understand my post so you can express discontent with something I never said. I was very careful to say there is no way to know what happened here without further investigation and even gave the specific pitfalls of relying on just statements from people who would naturally be disgruntled.

You’re working too hard to disagree with me, going so far as to cut me down for statements I never made. Why do you feel you must do this?

unlucky, the problem is that you start throwing around words like “falsehoods”, and the next anti Tesla troll doubles down on it. Then it becomes lies, and it tumbles downhill from there.

And you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

So I’m saying that throwing around words like “falsehoods” without any evidence at all of there being any “falsehoods” is irresponsible. This sort of “what if” talk when the “what if” implies unlawful activity is irresponsible.

Let me illustrate. Let’s examine what the impact would be if you were a mass murderer. That would mean that you were a psychopath, and you are a danger to others around you and should be jailed. Should we have an extended discussion around how you should be jailed? And what it would be like for you to spend time in jail? No, we shouldn’t. Because there is no evidence that you are a mass murderer, and having a rational discussion about your life in prison as a psycho killer would be irresponsible. Even though I clearly said “If”.

But certainly if you want to have a discussion about your prison time, we can continue….

You’re right that California is technically an “at will” state, but in actuality there are so many exceptions that in practice the opposite is true.

But the issue here isn’t whether Tesla could lay off the employees. It’s whether Tesla mischaracterized layoffs as firings in order to avoid its legal obligations under federal and California law.

Well, they had to pay Paul(Grohmann) so it was necessary to rob Peter(Tesla/Solar City). They don’t need to be duking it out with the powerful European union right now, when there’s much weaker labor here in the US. Get the low hanging fruit first.

Grohmann had proper earnings/finances before Tesla took over. It might be difficult for a company which did not earn one dollar (Tesla) to tell a perfectly healthy company (Grohmann), that it needs to fire people. Maybe in the future with all other customers shooed away by Musk… For what factory is Grohmann engineering and building equipment right now?

A company that did not “earn one dollar” huh? I believe the operative term is “Tesla took over”. As in they’re in charge! NO ONE from Grohmann was fired. Guess what, not only were they not fired, they wanted more money than Grohmann was paying them! They got it and additional concessions from Tesla. So cry me a river somewhere else. You have a nice day!