69-Year-Old Engineer Suing Tesla For Age Discrimination

A former employee of Tesla, a 69-year-old engineer that was fired by the company earlier this year, is suing, alleging age discrimination is why he was fired.

tesla-fremont-factory-2-1The newly filed lawsuit is an interesting one, though not particularly surprising, as a number of similar lawsuits have been filed in recent years by other tech-sector employees (at Google, Twitter, Microsoft, IBM, etc.).

The general claim, as noted by Fusion in its coverage, is that older employees are claiming “that tech companies are ignoring their experience in lieu of younger workers and that the push for greater diversity in the workplace is blind to the issue of age discrimination.”

A key point in this, no doubt, is that younger workers tend to be notably cheaper.

Here are the details: “In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Thomas Flessner, 69, has sued his former employer, Tesla, for age discrimination … Flessner began working with Tesla as a contract hire before being brought on full-time at the company’s Fremont, California facility as a materials engineer in 2012. But Flessner says that once he joined the company’s engineering team he was isolated due to his age and routinely chastised for completing projects slower than his coworkers. In reality, Flessner says, he worked just as hard as everyone else, with the added burden of having to disprove myths about older workers being slow or unable to adapt to changing technology.”

The complaint notes that: “Furthermore, the younger engineers were not criticized for the speed of their work by (supervisor Paul) Edwards even though they did not accomplish their projects any faster than plaintiff.”

Continuing: “Paul Edwards is named repeatedly in the complaint and Flessner says Edwards singled him out by canceling meetings with him, ignoring his contributions, and criticizing him more sternly than his coworkers. Flessner’s treatment at Tesla only worsened, he alleges, when he took time off following diagnosis and surgery for congestive heart failure. Flessner says that upon his return he was warned by a former supervisor, ‘These guys are gunning for you.’ In the months before he was terminated, Flessner says he worked with his supervisor on an ‘action plan’ to improve his reviews, but was still terminated in February of this year.”

A Tesla spokesperson gave a short statement on the matter: “While we aren’t commenting on the specifics of this litigation, we are committed to upholding a discrimination-free workplace.”

A preference for young employees seems to be a constant throughout much of the tech industry. Humorously, there is even, reportedly, quite a lot of plastic surgery being undertaken by tech sector employees in relevant parts of California because of the issue (employees as young as 26, according to The New Republic).

Given that there are some in the tech industry who literally believe that aging is some kind of problem or disease to be solved/cured, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the industry as a whole seems to have an aversion to the process of aging, and to older people. It seems to be tied in tightly with some of the more pseudo-religious aspects of the industry — “enhanced” humans, the so-called “singularity,” and what not.

James Ayre

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.