U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit accepted the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), upholding its decision that Elon Musk’s tweet contained a threat to workers regarding compensation.
In May 2018, a Twitter user asked Musk about his position on unions. “There is nothing stopping the Tesla team at our auto plant from voting for the union. We could do it now if we wanted to he wrote back. — But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing?
The union filed a complaint about this tweet with the NLRB, which ruled in 2021 that Musk had indeed threatened company employees. And while Tesla claims that Musk’s tweet only indicated that workers in other auto companies don’t get stock options, NLRB chairman Wilma Liebman took it as a warning to employees that if they join a union, they won’t get stock options anymore.
In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that “substantial evidence supports the NLRB’s conclusion that the tweet is a veiled threat to terminate stock options as retribution for unionization.”
The court ordered Musk to delete the tweet, which was still up-to-date at the time of writing, and also upheld the NLRB’s reinstatement order for Tesla worker Richard Ortiz, who advocated unionizing Tesla workers. According to the decision of the NLRB, the automaker must also compensate him for the loss of earnings and benefits due to the dismissal.
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