Elon Musk broke the law by threatening Tesla workers’ stock options, legal rules | Elon Musk

A US appeals court has ruled that Elon Musk violated federal labor law by tweeting that Tesla employees would lose stock options if they joined a union.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board that said the 2018 tweet constituted an illegal anti-union threat and ordered Musk to delete it.

In the midst of an organizing drive at Tesla̵[ads1]7;s Fremont, California factory by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, Musk tweeted: “Nothing stopping the Tesla team at our auto factory from voting union… But why pay union dues and give up stock options for nothing ? “

UAW President Shawn Fain applauded the decision, but said it also highlights “our broken American labor laws.”

“Here is a company that clearly broke the law, and yet these workers are years away from getting even a modicum of justice,” Fain said.

Tesla in February defeated an investor lawsuit over another 2018 Musk tweet saying funding was secured to take the company private; and a British cave explorer unsuccessfully sued Musk for calling him a “pedo” on Twitter.

Musk bought Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion.

In Friday’s case, Tesla had argued that the union tweet was not a threat and merely reflected the fact that union workers at other auto companies did not receive stock options.

But a three-judge panel disagreed.

“Substantial evidence supports the NLRB’s conclusion that the tweet is an implied threat to terminate stock options in retaliation for unionization,” the panel wrote.

The labor board in a separate case in 2022 said Tesla violated labor laws by prohibiting workers at the Fremont plant from wearing shirts supporting the union campaign. The company is appealing the decision.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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