Tesla was able to build Giga Texas in less than two years, but constructions workers that helped build the massive new factory in such a short amount of time say the company violated labour laws and placed them in unsafe working conditions.
The case has come to light due to several whistleblowers who allege that a subcontractor falsified documentation so as to not provide necessary training on health, safety, and worker’s rights. The whistleblowers also allege unsafe working conditions and that they did not receive overtime pay, or any pay at all.
As a result, a complaint and case referral was filed with the federal Department of Labor on Tuesday, according to a report by The Guardian.
One of the workers, identified only as Victor, says he was given fake certifications that he had completed the required safety training. Victor also claims he and other workers were forced to work on the Giga Texas roof at night with no lighting. Additionally they had to work over turbines that were blowing smoke without protective masks.
In another example Victor said he and others were forced to work on a flooded factory floor with live wiring still on the floor, a situation he told his wife was going to lead to his death.
Other whistleblowers allege they were not paid double for working over Thanksgiving, despite being told they would.
According to Hannah Alexander, an attorney for Workers Defense Project that is helping the construction workers with their case, all of the whistleblowers were not directly employed by Tesla, but were contractors or subcontractors.
Despite this, Alexander says Tesla as the developer could have done more to protect workers rights.
“Tesla [did not seem] interested in using their power to ensure that everyone was able to go home at the end of the day without injuries, with all the money that they’re owed in their pockets,” Alexander said.
Tesla has not issued a comment on the case.