Tesla has confirmed a round of firings that affected hundreds of employees this week after going through their ‘performance reviews’.

The company says it’s business as usual while other reports suggest it was poorly executed with little to no notice and even “politically motivated” in some cases.

A Tesla spokesperson said that after the performance reviews, some were promoted and other were fired:

“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

Employees at the Fremont factory and Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters were reportedly the most affected and some of them spoke with the local Mercury News.

They reported that the unionization effort at Tesla’s Fremont factory could have played a role in this:

“Openly pro-union workers were among those fired this week. Some believe they were targeted.The company denied union activities played a role in the dismissals.”

Tesla is not confirming the total number of employees that were dismissed, but the estimates range between 200 and 1,000 employees.

Electrek’s Take

As we previously reported, it’s difficult to evaluate just how serious is the unionization effort at Tesla, but we assessed that it’s likely only a small number of employees pushing for it in Fremont.

Though there’s no denying that Tesla’s work environment is fast paced and demanding. A study of tech employees released last year placed Tesla in a standout position as one of the most stressful yet most meaningful workplaces.

Interestingly, SpaceX, CEO Elon Musk’s other company, was also described similarly in the survey and the rocket manufacturer has also been known to fire significant numbers of employees following performance reviews.

To put it in perspective, even if the higher-end of the estimates are true, it’s still about only 3% of the 33,000+ employees that were dismissed, which is certainly high for a short period of time, but Tesla is still hiring and currently has almost 2,500 open positions on its website, which would be a 7.5% increase in the workforce.

Therefore, this is clearly a question of a tough and competitive work environment, which has been described as ‘cutthroat’, versus a massive layoff having to do with reducing the size of the workforce.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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