Arbitration is a procedure where a dispute is resolved by the parties’ mutual agreement to an arbitrator who passes a binding decision on both parties. The parties often opt for alternate dispute resolution procedures instead of courts to settle in a more private setting.
However, as per Bloomberg, that won’t be an option for Tesla to settle the sexual harassment accusations after the California judge denied the billion-dollar company’s motion.
Although the plaintiff (female worker) who sued the company signed the arbitration agreement with Tesla that terminates her rights to sue, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kaus still proceeded to move forward with the judgment on Monday.
The plaintiff Jessica Barraza filed the lawsuit last year where she claimed to be a victim of inappropriate touching, catcalling, and lewd calling while working at the Tesla Fremont California factory as a production associate.
However, she wasn’t the only one making those claims, as nearly seven more female staff members have also reported similar sexual harassment complaints. Some even allegedly stated that the suggestive Tweets made by the company’s CEO Elon Musk only worsened the matters.
There is a copy of the court documents obtained by The Verge, where Judge Kaus. It states that Barraza was actually “Ambushed” by the arbitration policies of the company as Tesla didn’t provide “any indication that she would have to agree to arbitrate employment claims and give up her right to a jury trial.”
In March, President Joe Biden signed a bill that ended the forced arbitration concept in the cases of sexual assault. Still, unfortunately, as this case came forward before the bill became enforceable, it fell outside the scope of the law.
Barraza’s attorney David Lowe made some bold remarks stating, “This is a victory for public accountability,” He further stated, “Because of this ruling, Tesla will not be able to hide behind the closed doors of confidential arbitration. Instead, Tesla will be judged by a jury of Ms. Barraza’s peers in a public courtroom.”
A bad time for Elon Musk
The ruling couldn’t have arrived at a worse time as Musk himself is facing sexual misconduct allegations as per a recent report from the Insider. It states that Musk allegedly revealed his private part to a female during a corporate flight and offered her plenty of gifts if she proceeded with the acts.
SpaceX reportedly gave her $250,000 under a severance agreement after she brought the complaint to the management. Although Musk and his entire team deny these accusations, we are yet to see if there is some reality hidden under it.
However, as the most important notion in law goes, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty” we should wait for the official judgment from honorable judges and interrogations from the authorities before reaching a conclusion.