In Criticism: Tesla Actions: Tesla is said to have monitored employees via social media | News

• Tesla is said to have hired a PR firm to monitor employees on Facebook

• The posts concerned unfair working conditions and sexual harassment

• Gossiping about an employer on social media may not be a good idea for Tesla employees

The PR company monitors Tesla employees on Facebook

American American electric carThe Tesla Group is currently accused of systematically spying on its employees: According to some invoices and other documents processed by CNBC, the company commissioned MWW PR in 2017 and 2018 to monitor the activities of group members on Facebook monitored by Tesla employees. During this time, some employees at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, tried to form a union. According to the disclosed documents, PR has been entrusted with the task of closely monitoring discussions about unfair labor practices at Tesla on the Facebook group and any posts related to a specific allegation of sexual harassment at the company.

Although the documents are several years old, they provide quite revealing insight into how Elon Musk’s company works, as well as how the company responds to employees’ attempts to organize into unions. In addition to monitoring the aforementioned Facebook group, the documents also suggest that Tesla is also generally scouring the platform for employee comments about employee organizations, and the organizers themselves seem to be under surveillance as well.

Elon Musk: “The Democratic Party is too much controlled by the unions”

This is not the first time that Elon Musk has clashed with Tesla employees interested in forming a union. In 2017, the company fired union activist Richard Ortiz, and in 2018, Elon Musk posted a comment on Twitter that violated US labor law. Musk had to both bring Ortiz back and delete his tweet first, but after the tweet was canceled, it could have been republished.

Musk has always been a harsh critic of the long-standing ties between US trade unions and the Democratic Party. In the past, he has publicly denounced both President Joe Biden and several different party officials for their flirting with the unions. He has already announced that he will vote for the Republican this time in the upcoming elections because “The Democratic Party is way too much under trade union control.” Neither the Tesla factory in California nor in Texas have ever held a union election.

“Social Listening” is only acceptable in certain circumstances

In fact, there are different situations where an approach like Tesla in this case, commonly referred to as “social listening”, is not so bad and sometimes even necessary. According to UCLA professor John Villasenor, employers have reasonable grounds to monitor employee behavior on social media. As an example, Villasenor cites the hypothetical case of an employee publishing racist statements publicly on online platforms. According to the professor, in a situation in which an employee behaves in public in a way that directly questions his suitability as an employee, avoiding responsibility and simply doing nothing would be an option for his employer.

In addition, according to Villasenor, there are also clear ethical limits that must not be exceeded under any circumstances when an employer monitors employees’ internet activity. Jennifer M. Grygiel, professor of propaganda and social media at Syracuse University, told CNBC that these boundaries are broken when surveillance violates workers’ rights, in particular their right to discuss union formation, form or join a union.

Tesla encourages employees to solve problems internally

Three former employees of Tesla’s website in Fremont told CNBC that colleagues had warned them against joining their bosses on social media or joining Tesla employee groups on social media, unless they personally got to know every member they know. Two other anonymous people who are still employed by Tesla, according to CNBC, have suggested that their social media activities are being closely monitored by the company.

Under the company’s current official communication policy, according to CNBC, managers should not access their subordinates’ profiles without a good work-related reason. In addition, of course, the company also attaches great importance to discouraging employees from discussing business matters and conflicts on the Internet. Instead, Tesla encourages employees to explain any issues directly to colleagues or their supervisors or to contact Human Resources. Thomas Weschle / Editor of

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