Musk ran sweaty Tesla shop near Boston, fired manager says

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A former Tesla Inc. regional service manager claims Elon Musk’s EV company was too cheap to install air conditioning in the bay of one of its service shops to protect technicians during heat waves — and that he ultimately got fired over his complaints.

Benjamen Simon reported unsafe working conditions from heat “reaching dangerous temperatures” on the Tesla shop floor in Peabody, Mass., several times in 2021 and urged management to install air conditioning, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boston after it was transferred from state court.

Tesla denies wrongdoing in the case.

Simon claims he kept escalating the requests, even after his managers told him Tesla’s finance department wouldn’t approve spending “well over $100,000 for just one location to get air conditioning,” according to the complaint.

“The dangerous heat situation did not improve,” Kathleen Davidson, a lawyer for the former manager, wrote in the complaint. “Tesla disregarded Simon’s safety complaints.”

Instead, Simon claims previously friendly bosses cooled toward him and, within weeks, stripped him of three of the eight dealerships he supervised. A month later, Simon said, he was fired in retaliation for pushing the AC issue, in what he says was a pretext Tesla concocted involving his use of a company vehicle.

Simon alleges he was wrongfully terminated and wants a jury to award him lost wages, lost benefits and stock options, as well as compensation for emotional distress.

“Tesla maintains that plaintiff is not entitled to any relief whatsoever,” Anthony Califano, the carmaker’s attorney, said in a petition to move the suit to federal court. He said the case belongs there because Simon is seeking between $2.7 million and $10 million in damages, well above the threshold required to shift state court claims involving an out-of-state party.

Neither Califano nor Nicole Chomiak, another lawyer for Tesla, responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit outside regular business hours.

The case is Simon v. Tesla, 23-cv-10583, US District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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