A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that Elon Musk violated federal labor laws by tweeting that Tesla employees would lose their stock options if they joined a union.
The 5th United States Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, upheld a ruling by the United States National Labor Relations Board that the 2018 tweet constituted an unlawful threat likely to discourage union organizing and ordered Musk to delete it.
Amid an organizing drive at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, Musk tweeted: “Nothing stops You’re here team at our car factory from the 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 U.S. labor laws.”
“Here is a company that clearly broke the law and yet it will be many years before these workers get any justice,” Fain said.
In February, Tesla defeated a lawsuit from investors over another tweet from Musk from 2018 claiming funding had been secured to take the company private; and a British caver unsuccessfully sued Musk for calling him a “pedo guy” on Twitter.
Musk bought Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion.
In Friday’s case, Tesla had argued that the tweet about unionization was not a threat and simply reflected the fact that unionized workers at other automakers had not received 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 law by banning workers at the Fremont plant from wearing shirts supporting the union campaign. The company is appealing this decision.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.