For more information please call  800.727.2766


Fifth Circuit Overrules NLRB and Upholds Tesla’s Uniform Policy

The United Auto Workers (UAW) filed an unfair labor practice charge on behalf of Tesla employees. Section of the National Labor Relations Act provides legal protections for employees to self-organize, form, and join unions and engage in concerted activities to use their collective power to bargain. The UAW believes Tesla violated Section 7 because it requires all employees to wear an assigned uniform – black T-shirts with Tesla logos. Tesla implemented this policy after T-shirts with other logos damaged the new paint on its cars. The company policy allows employees to place union stickers and other messaging on these T-shirt uniforms.

The National Labor Relations Board found in favor of the UAW since Tesla imposed limitations on the employees' dress. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to enforce that decision. Because Tesla's policy did not infringe on an employee's ability to wear union insignia in other ways or their ability to solicit other employees during work and non-work hours, the circuit court distinguished this case from prior Section 7 violation decisions. Tesla’s policy is content-neutral and does not discriminate against any protected affiliations. The court highlighted the NLRB's lack of balance in reaching its decision and noted that Congress did not intend to invalidate all uniform requirements.

Interestingly, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, publicly stated last week that he disagrees with the idea of unions. He believes unions create "negativity" in the workplace. Although he believes that Tesla has given employees their fair share of profits, Musk also said, "If Tesla gets unionized[,] it will be because we deserved it, and because we failed in some way."