Tesla rebuffed a female engineer’s allegations of sexism and harassment in a statement Tuesday, saying an investigation found the claims to be unsubstantiated.
The allegations, by AJ Vandermeyden, were made public by an article in The Guardian. Vandermeyden, who still works at Tesla, says that she was denied promotions despite being as or more qualified than male coworkers and received lower pay.
Vandermeyden, who filed a lawsuit against Tesla, also claims that she experienced “unwelcome and pervasive harassment by men on the factory floor including but not limited to inappropriate language, whistling, and cat calls.”
Tesla denied the allegations in a statement Thursday, noting that an inquiry that concluded March 2016 found the claims to be unsubstantiated. The 2016 investigation was conducted by Anne Hilbert, a partner at Employment Matters Counseling & Consulting, a law firm in Palo Alto, California.
Tesla’s statement reads in full:
“Tesla is committed to creating a positive workplace environment that is free of discrimination for all our employees. Ms. Vandermeyden joined Tesla in a sales position in 2013, and since then, despite having no formal engineering degree, she has sought and moved into successive engineering roles, beginning with her work in Tesla’s paint shop and eventually another role in General Assembly.”
“Even after she made her complaints of alleged discrimination, she sought and was advanced into at least one other new role, evidence of the fact that Tesla is committed to rewarding hard work and talent, regardless of background. When Ms. Vandermeyden first brought her concerns to us over a year ago, we immediately retained a neutral third party, Anne Hilbert of EMC2Law, to investigate her claims so that, if warranted, we could take appropriate action to address the issues she raised.”
“After an exhaustive review of the facts, the independent investigator determined that Ms. Vandermeyden’s ‘claims of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation have not been substantiated.’ Without this context, the story presented in the original article is misleading.”
Therese Lawless, a partner at the law firm Lawless & Lawless who is representing Vandermeyden, said the investigation’s findings were not entirely accurate.
“It is my understanding that, at least from what I can tell, the investigation, parts of it, are inaccurate and it appears that information was selected in terms of what was given to the investigator,” Lawless told Business Insider.
Vandermeyden made her allegations to Tesla’s legal department in September and October 2015.
Tesla wrote in its statement that after making those allegations, Vandermeyden was advanced from a manufacturing engineer in the general assembly department into a new role in the purchasing department, which should serve as “evidence of the fact that Tesla is committed to rewarding hard work and talent.”
Lawless, however, said after Vandermeyden made the allegations, she voluntarily left the general assembly department and took a new role in the purchasing department where she is still paid less than male counterparts.