Finding a job in your 60s is hard anywhere, but apparently more so in the fast-paced tech industry where age discrimination is often brought up in court cases. The latest company to be accused of such a practice is Tesla Motors. 69-year-old Thomas Flessner, a former Materials Engineer at Tesla, is suing the automaker for age discrimination after being fired earlier this year.
Flessner, who had been with the company for over 3 years when he was fired in February 2016, claims that he “was isolated due to his age and routinely chastised for completing projects slower than his coworkers”, according to the lawsuit (via Fusion).
The engineer claims to have been working as hard as anyone else on the team, but that he was “singled-out” by his former boss and Sr. Manager of Materials Engineering at Tesla, Paul Edwards, who is repeatedly named in the lawsuit.
The complaint says:
“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.”
Flessner took some time off following a surgery for congestive heart failure and he claims that upon his return a supervisor told him “these guys are gunning for you.” in reference to his colleagues. He was working with his supervisor on an “action plan” to improve his reviews before being fired a few months later.
We reached out to Tesla for a comment on the lawsuit and we will update if we get an answer.
Update: A Tesla spokesperson sent us the following statement:
“While we aren’t commenting on the specifics of this litigation, we are committed to upholding a discrimination-free workplace.”
According to a survey released earlier this year, the median age at Tesla is 30-year-old, which is only slightly below the rest of Silicon Valley. The same survey also ranked Tesla as offering on average some of the most stressful and lowest paying jobs, but also the most meaningful.
The bellow average pay and age can partly be explained by the fact that Tesla is being compared to other Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google and Facebook, who don’t employ as many as technicians and production associates as Tesla, which are more entry-level jobs, since the company operates a factory in Silicon Valley.