Date: March 15, 2023Attorney: Steven I. Adler

As a Tesla owner, I can say that he makes a good car.  However, one could teach a course on how not to run a company or, more precisely, how not to handle a company’s Human Resources issues, by studying Elon Musk. 

                After taking over Twitter, Musk promptly laid off thousands of workers, leaving only a quarter of the headcount behind to operate the business.  He soon learned that there were gaping holes and needed to rehire numerous former employees (an approach usually not recommended by HR specialists).  Moreover, as to those who remained, he told them they were obligated to work long hours at high intensity or they should simply quit the company.  Stated differently, Musk made it clear that productivity was “king” and to-hell with a healthy work/life balance.  This, of course, will be hardest on women who typically still have more responsibilities in the home than their spouses.

                In 2021, the National Labor Relations Board found that Tesla had engaged in unfair labor practices for firing a worker for attempting to unionize and for a Musk tweet discouraging unionization.  Thereafter, former employees of Musk’s company SpaceX filed unfair labor practice charges alleging they were retaliated against by Musk for writing an open letter critical of him.  The letter was viewed as an “extremist act” resulting in the firing of nine employees in June 2022.  Most recently, Musk was verbally abusive to a disabled employee with muscular dystrophy who, along with approximately 200 others, had been locked out of their computers and did not know for nine days whether they had been fired by Twitter.  Layoffs and firings have gone on for months since Musk’s takeover, resulting in chaos throughout the organization.

                In short, whether dealing with unionization, workforce morale, workplace accommodations or effective communication strategies with a company’s workforce, ask what Elon Musk would do, and do the opposite.