Tesla used foreign laborers from Eastern Europe, some of whom earned as little as $5 an hour, to build a paint shop at the company’s Fremont, California, plant, according to The Mercury News.
After reading the story, Tesla CEO Elon Musk vowed to investigate the mistreatment of the workers, who largely were from Croatia and Slovenia.
Response to a Mercury News article about an injury on our premiseshttps://t.co/3BFgV6Hfia— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2016
Among those workers was Gregor Lesnik, an electrician from Slovenia, who claimed in a lawsuit to have worked 10 hours a day, for at least six days a week. Eisenmann, a German company, hired Lesnik through ISM Vuzem, a subcontractor, to help build Tesla’s paint shop. Both Vuzem and Eisenmann helped Lesnik secure a temporary business visa known as a B-1, even though he was performing hands-on work, according to The Mercury News.
In May 2015, Lesnik plunged nearly three stories through the paint shop roof. He broke his legs and ribs, tore ligaments in his knee and suffered a concussion, according to The Mercury News.
Tesla initially denied responsibility for Lesnick, telling the Mercury News that it did not hire him.
But the company appeared to shift it’s stance after the article was published.
“Morally, we need to give Mr. Lesnik the benefit of the doubt and we need to take care of him,” Tesla said in a statement. “We will make sure this happens. We do not condone people coming to work at a Tesla facility, whether they work for us, one of our contractors or even a sub-subcontractor, under the circumstances described in the article.”