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Tesla laid off my disabled veteran husband then cancelled his sign on bonus (twitter.com)
234 points by inarrears 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments



It's possible her husband got railroaded, however it's also possible he did not. Impossible to tell from this tweetstorm.

First, being a disabled veteran does not preclude you from being laid off.

And as many others in this thread have pointed out, the "sign on bonus" she appears to reference apparently vests over 4 years, which is not that uncommon.

She says:

> "We’re shattered. Devasted. And fucking broke. @Tesla, shame on you. I know lay offs are a part of life, but you really took the low road and kicked your loyal employee in the balls when he was down."

Just to play Devil's Advocate for a minute, what if companies were prevented from firing or laying off employees because of the financial situation of the employee? Should the company be forced to keep paying redundant employees as some form of social justice or obligation?

Look -- this is not a judgment on her, her husband, or their family. Maybe what happened to this couple is a complete travesty, maybe Tesla is some horrible evil mega-corporation and they should feel ashamed over the situation.

However it's also possible her husband was in a department that was no longer needed or maybe even he underperformed his colleagues -- there's no way of knowing from this tweetstorm.

What I dislike is this presumption on HN that just because someone tweeted out his/her spouse got laid off by a tech giant that it's automatically some immediate miscarriage of justice.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. There's no way of knowing from the evidence in front of us. I wish the mods of HN were more judicious in accepting these kind of one-sided screeds.


It’s true we don’t have context. It’s also possible she’s lying. But, it has to be read in the context of spending billions to bail out SolarCity which Elon owned with family. It is no wonder his generosity towards himself and unfeeling layoffs for employees will cause some people to question his moral character. Which again, in the context of a tobacco company is not interesting, but for save the world Tesla it is a real story.


I would guess that job security and other benefits are actually much better in tobacco companies, than in cool and hyped tech companies like Tesla. Tobacco companies have trouble attracting talent and make good easy profit.


Even before evaluating the merits, the fact that "this is impossible, they have competent and professional Human Resources" doesn't apply is a massive failure on both the company and the executive management.


> Just to play Devil's Advocate for a minute, what if companies were prevented from firing or laying off employees because of the financial situation of the employee? Should the company be forced to keep paying redundant employees as some form of social justice or obligation?

Sure, why not?

This is common practice in lots of pretty successful and pleasant countries. It's also common practice in systems like academic tenure. It's got its downsides, but so does at-will employment.

The primary reason I can think of to not do it is that it makes life tough for small employers like startups, who simply may not have the resources to pay out people for an extended termination period. So have it kick in once you hire N employees or make more than $M in revenue. (We do the same with plenty of other protections with social justice overtones, like anti-discrimination / anti-harassment laws.) Once you're Tesla-sized, though, you can afford to give people months of pay when laying them off, either as notice or as severance, giving them time to interview for another job and letting benefits like health insurance continue.


> Once you're Tesla-sized, though, you can afford to give people months of pay when laying them off, either as notice or as severance, giving them time to interview for another job and letting benefits like health insurance continue.

Wait, how did you make that determination?

In Musk's most recent letter to employees he said Tesla made a 4% profit in Q3 2018 and the forecast was lower for Q4 -- you think companies should be obligated to pay for employees they don't want or need? Just because they're a big a company and it'd be inconvenient for the employee?

I don't understand this POV at all, can you explain?


Yes, I think that companies should be obligated to pay for employees that they thought they wanted or needed and then changed their minds, just because they're a big company and it'd be inconvenient for the employee. I don't believe they need to be obligated to pay indefinitely, but I do believe that they need to pay some generous severance period.

I am not sure how to explain this POV. I think it's good for society as a whole and good for people, and that's what I'm looking for in laws and government. What do you look for in laws?

I believe, similarly, that landlords should be obligated to rent out properties that they thought they wanted to rent out and then changed their minds on, just because it'd be inconvenient for the renter, for some generous period in which the renter can look for new housing. I don't believe that a landlord should be legally able to say "Good morning, I'm tired of renting, move out." My apartment is on a yearly lease, and either party needs to give about two months' notice if we want to not renew the lease for another year. That seems like a good thing, and rents are sky-high in my area and the market is very vibrant, so it's clearly not making landlords unwilling to participate in the market. Is this POV comprehensible to you?

In that same letter, Musk wrote, "we grew by 30% last year, which is more than we can support". I think that it is good for society and good for people and good for companies and good for investors for companies to be careful and intentional about hiring.


> My apartment is on a yearly lease, and either party needs to give about two months' notice if we want to not renew the lease for another year.

But then how is the problem not already being solved through contract law without needing anything separate?

And sometimes you don't want that, e.g. you may have to stay in a hotel for an indeterminate period of time because your house was damaged by a storm, but still want be able to check out whenever you want instead of having to give two months notice.

> That seems like a good thing, and rents are sky-high in my area and the market is very vibrant, so it's clearly not making landlords unwilling to participate in the market.

Rents being sky-high actually is a sign that landlords are unwilling to participate in the market, but it's more likely caused by restrictive zoning (causing new construction to be unwilling/unable to participate in the market) than some kind of lease requirements that may or may not exist there.


> But then how is the problem not already being solved through contract law without needing anything separate?

Contract law only really works for two people in similar bargaining positions. Good luck to you if you have poor credit history or are barely making ends meet and have to rent from whoever will take you.

If that's the only protection, then it's precisely the people who can't afford to be kicked out suddenly who won't have protection against it.


Contract law works for everybody. People in a better bargaining position get a better deal, but the contract didn't create their bargaining position.

There are two lease contracts the landlord can offer you. One has a lower rent but allows them to evict you at any time without notice, the other has a higher rent and gives you two months notice. You can pass a law against the first one, but then you're left with the second one. And then the person barely making ends meat has to pay more in rent.


I would like law to fix their bargaining positions, because I think that's a place that law is capable of working effectively and that it would be good for society for it to do so. I am not personally a believer that the law should treat the status quo as something sacred / "fair" and avoid interfering unless necessary.


> I would like law to fix their bargaining positions, because I think that's a place that law is capable of working effectively and that it would be good for society for it to do so.

There are ways to do that, but some of them are better than others. For example, institute a UBI and the person barely making ends meat will be doing better and be able to afford the lease with the notice.

In general, the policies that work are the ones that don't try to micromanage anything or prohibit anything. If people are choosing something, assume it's not because they're idiots. Give them more choices, not fewer.

For example, a great way to help the poor is to have tuition-free community colleges, or encourage anything that lowers housing prices. But we don't really have that. Instead we subsidize student loan interest and mortgage interest, because that's more profitable to the banks who lobbied for it and the for-profit colleges and existing landowners it allows to inflate prices into the sky.

The problem with programs to help the poor is that the ones that actually do are expensive and don't pass, while the ones that pass will claim to but really do something else that most of the time makes things worse, completely by design from the perspective of the people who proposed it because they profit from it.

Better to have a UBI than subsidized loan interest, but better to have nothing than subsidized loan interest. Many "solutions" produce negative progress.


Instituting an UBI will only make rents more expensive and above the UBI level. It happened with government guaranteed housing credit in certain EU countries. The credit upper threshold was max 60k euros, so good luck finding cheaper options because everything starts at 60k now, even old apartments. If the gov't screws too much with the economy, it will screw people back.


That's because it's a housing credit instead of a UBI. If you give people money they can only use for housing, they use it for housing and the price of housing increases relative to the price of everything else (including wages).

If you give them money they can use for anything, it doesn't increase the real cost of anything in particular, it only reduces the relative disparity between the rich and the poor.


That's an academic distinction, honestly nearing the point of bad faith. What's that line - the law in its majestic equality forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges?

I would rather a situation where people actually can't afford housing, which forces a solution, to one where we can pretend people are fine until they aren't. A similar argument is used against minimum wages, and yet the poor are almost universally better off in countries where minimum wages are high.


> What's that line - the law in its majestic equality forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges?

Which is why passing laws against things generally hurts the poor. The rich don't need to sleep under a bridge, so who does a law against it affect?

> I would rather a situation where people actually can't afford housing, which forces a solution, to one where we can pretend people are fine until they aren't.

Only it hasn't actually forced a solution. But rents sure are high now.

> A similar argument is used against minimum wages, and yet the poor are almost universally better off in countries where minimum wages are high.

The unemployed youth in France are not having a good time.

But more to the point, these kinds of laws tend to follow prosperity rather than the other way around.


> Which is why passing laws against things generally hurts the poor.

That's not a reasonable conclusion. Laws against usury protect the poor. Laws against dangerous workplaces protect the poor. Hell, laws against slavery and debt prisons protect the poor.

> Only it hasn't actually forced a solution. But rents sure are high now.

They may be high, but it hasn't increased homelessness. Homelessness is barely above a ten year minimum, lower than during the GFC. [1]

That's sort of my point, at this stage people just barely get by, which is exactly the sort of situation legislators can ignore.

> The unemployed youth in France are not having a good time.

Cherry picking, but also not obviously related to the point. Are the unemployed youth in France unemployed due to minimum wage laws? Would they be better off if such laws weren't in place? Citation?

> But more to the point, these kinds of laws tend to follow prosperity rather than the other way around.

I'm not making an argument for maximising prosperity. A country with one quadrillionaire and everyone else broke would be the most prosperous in the world. I'm making an argument for protecting the poor.

[1] https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2018-AHAR-P..., page 10


> Laws against usury protect the poor.

Laws against usury subject the poor to illegal loan sharks who will break their kneecaps for non-payment rather than paying a high interest rate to a payday loan place that will merely ding their credit score and try to reclaim their loan money using the legal process.

> Laws against dangerous workplaces protect the poor.

Laws against dangerous workplaces protect shareholders from losing their investment when somebody gets hurt and sues the company. And give the company cover because they had their inspection done when somebody gets hurt regardless, so it's more difficult for the poor to sue them after an injury as long as their paperwork is in order.

Moreover, the compliance cost for companies that were not operating an unsafe workplace to begin with imposes overhead on small businesses and reduces competition, which can lower wages.

It's likely that they don't cause a major harm because there is no good reason to be operating an unsafe workplace regardless of whether there is a law against it, but they're still pretty close to breakeven.

> Hell, laws against slavery and debt prisons protect the poor.

Laws binding the legislature from instituting slavery or debt prisons, i.e. laws against certain laws, are not really canonical examples here.

> That's sort of my point, at this stage people just barely get by, which is exactly the sort of situation legislators can ignore.

We made things worse, but only by increasing inequality, not to the point of increasing homelessness. So we should make things even worse, that way when everything is really on fire someone will have to notice? What if we only get even more inequality and malaise?

> Are the unemployed youth in France unemployed due to minimum wage laws? Citation?

As part of a broad framework of high-overhead labor laws that discourage employers from hiring.

https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1...

> I'm not making an argument for maximising prosperity. A country with one quadrillionaire and everyone else broke would be the most prosperous in the world. I'm making an argument for protecting the poor.

The best way to protect the poor is to get them out of poverty. Giving all the money to one quadrillionaire doesn't do that, but neither does binding everyone's hands or making it more expensive for anyone to start a small business.


To steel-man your point, I agree that legislature that amounts to surface level micromanagement is almost always counter productive. I like your macroeconomic approach to these issues.

Still, I found your counterexamples here dismissive but unconvincing. Loan sharks and kneecappings are precisely the things we need legislature against. Contract law by itself can't prevent desperate people from signing loan-shark contracts. "No good reason to be operating an unsafe workplace" is still enough reason to use children in coal mines until actual labor laws get passed. Anti-slavery laws are pretty plainly laws against powerful individuals enslaving weaker individuals--not sure what you mean with the "laws against laws" card there.


> I am not sure how to explain this POV. I think it's good for society as a whole and good for people, and that's what I'm looking for in laws and government. What do you look for in laws?

In laws and in government I look for measures to maximize my liberty. I think the purpose of government is to defend me from you and you from me.

I am ultimately responsible for my happiness. I don't think governments can make people happy and I don't think they should try

> I believe, similarly, that landlords should be obligated to rent out properties that they thought they wanted to rent out and then changed their minds on, just because it'd be inconvenient for the renter, for some generous period in which the renter can look for new housing. I don't believe that a landlord should be legally able to say "Good morning, I'm tired of renting, move out."

If landlords are in the business of doing things like this, I would like to start a company that doesn't treat it's customers like garbage and take money out of the pockets of such landlords


I'm not interested in arguing primarily in the discussion at hand, but you seem to have a position based in some philosophical/ideological claims that I think may hold up to scrutiny very well.

> I don't think governments can make people happy.

The government does positive actions (i.e. not merely preventing bad actors from doing bad stuff) for maintaining national parks.

I chose this example because the happiness of enjoying a national park is very direct, and the government's positive actions in maintaining these parks (e.g. controlling burns) is very uncontroversial.

So it turns out that the government can make people happy.

> I think the purpose of government is to defend me from you and you from me.

Does the government have a duty to defend its citizens from natural causes and from itself? If you agree with this, the there should be some guarantee by the government that the disabled veteran should be no less able to qualify for a job that someone not disabled can qualify for, with the difference in productivity compensated by the government.


>[...]there should be some guarantee by the government that the disabled veteran should be no less able to qualify for a job that someone not disabled can qualify for[...]

Doesn’t the ADA(A) cover this? Doesn’t it specifically ensure that disability can’t be used for qualification?

>[...]with the difference in productivity compensated by the government.

Wouldn’t that undermine the fact that people with disabilities shouldn’t be evaluated based on their disability and ‘reasonable’ accommodations should be made?


> Doesn’t the ADA(A) cover this? Doesn’t it specifically ensure that disability can’t be used for qualification?

What I'm saying is one step further, and more unreasonable: that if the disability disqualifies the person, then the government should compensate them for the marginal loss in wages that they could have earned from that job if they were not disabled (against a lower-paying job that they are still qualified for).

The ADA only prevents discrimination by employers against disabled people where the disability does not disqualify them from the job.

> Wouldn’t that undermine the fact that people with disabilities shouldn’t be evaluated based on their disability and ‘reasonable’ accommodations should be made?

This is a good general rule of thumb for the everyday treatment of the disabled, in terms of integrating with society. But I think this is insufficient to bring justice to the disabled. But you have a point and I guess the following may be a better way: with respect to disabilities arising from government service, there is a point in time when the government's actions have caused an individual to be disabled. Thus the disabled individual may be compensated for the amortized future loss in wages at one go; thereafter the law should not actively discriminate (positively/negatively) the disabled based on their disability. If a society should then decide to be more magnanimous, this may be done, too, to the naturally disabled, once they become of age. (not while they are too young, or this would create a perverse incentive)


>Yes, I think that companies should be obligated to pay for employees that they thought they wanted or needed and then changed their minds, just because they're a big company and it'd be inconvenient for the employee. I don't believe they need to be obligated to pay indefinitely, but I do believe that they need to pay some generous severance period.

Then people need to form guilds and demand this be standard practice in contracts.

Forcing this kind of thing through the middleman of a government seems like a great way to make a lot of people upset and not really get the progress desired.


Historically, there have been plenty of companies that tried offering terms like "neither party can end employment without significant penalties without a year of notice" – for example, see non-competes in finance, which require the employer to keep paying the employee while they're on leave.

Employees in the US tend not to prefer such agreements. It seems like most people prefer job mobility to guaranteed tenure.


> I think it's good for society as a whole

people thought communism was good for society as a whole.. turns out it isn't

Key insight is that you have to consider the bigger picture and the incentives that your proposed rule creates.

> good for companies and good for investors for companies to be careful and intentional about hiring

how careful though? So careful that you rarely hire or fire anyone at all? So careful that it's impossible to disrupt an industry like Tesla is doing? Who should decide these things? Ever wonder why innovation mostly happens in the US rather then Western Europe?

I think there are sensible rules to regulate corps BUT I don't think these rules should be of the form of giving out freebies (which is what you want here). Regs for corps in dealing with individuals should be focused on creating a level playing field, such as laws against companies having too large a market share (because a person can almost never have a large market share), laws penalising unclear or confusing contracts, etc.


> Yes, I think that companies should be obligated to pay for employees that they thought they wanted or needed and then changed their minds

Wait, how do you determine this criterion? Take, for example, Trump's tariffs on Chinese manufactured goods. Retaliatory tariffs by China have made Tesla's cars far more expensive. That's not Tesla whimsically changing its mind about its employees, that's the financial and global politically situation rapidly changing.

You think Elon Musk is morally obligated to pay for employees Tesla can no longer afford because Trump pulled the rug out from under him?


A little subtler than that, but somewhat yes.

The global financial / political / market situation can change for the better or for the worse, unrelated to the quality of the company's own work. Musk is exposed to the upside of these changes. We could have had, for instance, a president who cracked down firmly on fossil fuels and made electric cars much more competitive. (Or leave the US out; the rest of the world could have driven up the prices of fossil fuels.) He should be exposed, in turn, to the downside of these changes beyond the company's control. That's how investments and gambles and ventures work. (Alternatively, if we think it's good as a society for him not to be exposed to the downsides, we should find a productive means to insulate / insure him; transferring the risk onto low-level employees seems like a pretty unproductive approach IMO!)

Given that this employee was compensated significantly in bonuses and not in base pay ("it was okay that @Tesla didn't pay much because the bonuses were going to make up for it over time"), if he was compensated significantly in stock, then I think it's fine for him to be exposed to the risk because he's also exposed to reward if the company does well. But in such a case, a) they should not have canceled his existing stock grants and b) there should have been no need to lay him off immediately, they should have budgeted his base pay based on forecasts of possible not-great 2018s, and given him the option to continue working for base pay + weaker stock.

But if he was compensated in cash, I think Musk should be obligated - not "morally" obligated (I have strong opinions informed by my religious beliefs on moral employment agreements, but that's a different argument entirely), just obligated in the sense of logically necessary to produce robust outcomes that make effective use of the market and place appropriate incentives to maximize long-term productivity for society - to bear the risk of things going unexpectedly wrong in the market.


> It's got its downsides, but so does at-will employment.

On the other hand, the downsides of at-will employment are basically solved by having unemployment insurance.

> So have it kick in once you hire N employees or make more than $M in revenue.

The trouble with this is well demonstrated by the instant case -- Tesla has lots of employees and revenue but also major operating costs. It's more likely that a large company can absorb x% in overhead than a small one, but that doesn't mean it's always the case. And it doesn't help anybody for 100% of the employees to lose their jobs instead of 7%.


This law would be known to Tesla when they hired those 7% of employees in the first place. They'd take it into account when deciding if they could afford to hire them. They'd know that their budgets for 2019 would include some non-negotiable salary costs.

And of course it is possible for any company to make short-sighted decisions that result in bankruptcy. Hiring too many people and being obligated to pay them is just one of several; if we're worried about companies going bankrupt and that being bad for ... employees? investors? society? ... then we should prevent them from making all kinds of bad decisions, not just from having to employ people.


You can't solve the problem with only partial foreknowledge. Being required to continue to pay redundant employees is a cost whether you know about it ahead of time or not. And not hiring employees you're not sure if you'll need is a catch-22. If you hire them and don't need them you're screwed, and if you need them but didn't hire them you're also screwed. Which one is the "bad decision" at the point in time when you don't know whether you'll need them or not?

The solution is for employees to negotiate their employment contracts. If you want X months of notice before being terminated, demand that it's in your contract before you agree to work there. But that will mean the employer will want to offer less compensation, because they're incurring a cost and it's always a quid pro quo. Putting the rules in the law instead of the contract only prevents you from choosing the other thing -- lots of people would rather get paid more than have more notice when being laid off.


>They'd take it into account when deciding if they could afford to hire them.

Sounds like a great way to incentivise companies to discriminate against old people and people with preexisting conditions.


at-will employment has these exact scenarios we're talking about. So on one side we have redundant or useless employees, on the other employees getting dicked over.

So at the end of the day it is all a compromise. I think pro worker compromises at the expense of companies staffing > 50 employees is definitely a positive.


> This is common practice in lots of pretty successful and pleasant countries

With measurably deleterious effects on entrepreneurship. The solution to lay-offs isn’t hindering labour allocation. It’s socialising survival costs, e.g. through unemployment insurance, universal healthcare and subsistence guarantees.


I'm not totally convinced entrepreneurship is the right measure. Research happens in plenty of other contexts; entrepreneurship is just a vehicle that works well in a society that values a free market and rugged individualism.

But I don't have enough evidence to say that entrepreneurship is uncorrelated with improving society, so I'll just ask - anyone have recommended studies/articles/etc. arguing either for or against entrepreneurship or even research being a good measure of improvements to society / quality of life?


Redundancies are a natural part of business and working life.

It's how you do them that is important and it revolves around treating people with dignity. Give them notice, allow them time to say goodbye to others, don't escort them out the building, don't make them sign NDAs etc.

Most companies do not have the spouses of former employees jump on Twitter to complain. So the mere fact it has happened means something went wrong from Tesla HR.


My wife got laid off from Tesla in one of those wave layoffs. This was the standard practice. They actually mailed her personal stuff back and send a pre-paid package for computer and locked access to everything prior to announcing the lay-off. She didn’t even had a chance to say goodbye to the people that she has worked with. There seems to be some old school Jack welsh style brutal management style being practiced in Tesla. Not sure why they think they need to be like that.


Funny how Musk tries to portray himself as a hip, future-focused visionary but runs his companies like a 19th century robber-baron.


It explicitly does not follow that Tesla HR did anything inappropriate or wrong because the wife of this man went on twitter. There's literally no evidence to show that.


If her husband was simply being "made redundant" (i.e. laid off for business purposes) then you're right, it's inconsiderate to the employee to give less than 2 week's notice of such a change.

My point is, however, we can't know if that's what happened here.

Imagine for a second (and I'm NOT saying that's what happened here) her husband was terminated for sexual harassment. Should the company have given him 2 weeks?

The problem is we don't KNOW what happened, and for legal reasons Tesla won't respond (nor would any other company, probably).

A firing, layoff, termination -- without detailed, explicit evidence it's very hard to assign blame. This person has given us little detail so I think we should be cautious about how outsiders evaluate the outcome.

It's disappointing however to see this on the front page of HN as some sort of implicit acknowledgment that what Tesla did was wrong when we don't have a full, independent accounting of what happened.

Just put yourself in the shoes of a company or manager that's had to let someone go for legit reasons -- would you publicize them? We need more data but this tweetstorm doesn't really provide it, IMHO.


Er, just to check, are you aware that Tesla announced layoffs of 7% of the company two days ago https://www.tesla.com/blog/tesla-company-update ? Are you claiming that the poster is speaking of an unrelated layoff? Or that Tesla swept up sexual harassers in the 7% layoffs?


Of course. But do you have specific knowledge that the 7% layoffs was the explicit reason this employee was let go?

You don't know. I don't know. So why are we passing judgment?

If the tweetstorm was about why it's misguided corporate governance for Tesla to lay off 7% of its workforce, OK, let's have that debate.

But that's not what this thread discusses -- it specifically blames Tesla for laying off 1 person. But we can't possibly know the specifics of this individual's situation.


You think that he was coincidentally laid off for some unrelated purpose on the same day as HR was busy laying off 7% of their employees? That they didn't schedule it for one day before or after?

I don't know, you're right, but this is highly improbable.


I agree with your overall point that we don't have enough info to judge parts of this story, but Tesla publicly let go 7% of it's workforce due to financial pressures and Elon even posted his letter to the workers a few days ago, so this is pretty clearly a general layoff for business purposes, not someone being let go for misbehavior.


As I discuss above -- if we want to discuss the wisdom of laying off 7% of a company, let's do that.

But that's not what this thread discusses, it talks about the injustice of 1 person being laid off. And we can't possibly know the exact specifics of this individual's situation, so why are we passing judgment?


I read the wife's thread as not being upset that he's laid off (although I'm sure she's not happy about it), but being upset about the _manner_ in which he was laid off: e.g. short notice, being escorted out, bonuses not being paid, NDAs requested, etc.

I agree that it's hard to judge those items without knowing the details of his offer letter, the terms of the bonuses, etc.


NDA requested? Sure pay my bonus


No - now what?


You don't get the NDA. And I say whatever I want.


Mass layoffs are often used as cover for sweeping out the deadwood and other problematic employees. It allows both parties to save face.


> don't escort them out the building

This is done because every once in a while, a laid-off employee will attempt sabotage or theft on the way out. A bad apple here and there ruins it for everyone.


One should also be careful of how the bonus is structured. If a “sign-on bonus” vests over time, it’s just a bonus and at-risk. Real sign-on bonuses are paid when the offer is signed or in the first paycheck.


Likewise with a "2018 performance bonus". If it's a "2018 performance bonus" you don't get to take it back because he is laid off (or even quits) in 2019.

I'm sure there is legalese behind the bonus that backs up Tesla's interpretation of both. More likely than not they would win in court too. But calling it something it isn't still strikes me as fraud.


I looked up the severance package for my company - amazingly they do pay out the annual bonus, even if you leave mid-year, it's just prorated based on how much you worked that year. However, I think there is some exception if you worked less than a month that year.

Seems pretty fair.


If you're referring to your own companies bonus structure, I would tend to agree.

That would be taking part most/all of his 2019 bonus if you're talking about OP though, not his 2018 one. Presuming at all reasonable (i.e. not deceptive) terminology.


> the "sign on bonus" she appears to reference apparently vests over 4 years, which is not that uncommon

At least in finance, nobody claws these back unless someone quit in bad faith.


I don’t think it got clawed back. I think future promised but not paid amounts were just not paid. Which seems a logical reason to pay out bonuses slowly.


Ah I thought they yanked all the bonus back. I guess it's more fair if it's only proportional, but at the same time it seems a bit underhanded to only give part of a signing bonus because you closed the position. I can see both sides I guess.


Actually being disabled should give you some protections. Companies are required to work within your disabilities if you are still able to perform your job.

However it's very _COMMON_ for company's to just fire someone who is disabled and hire someone else who can do the job without needing a babysitter.

Most people don't see a problem with this until it's their child; then they will be angry.

Lastly normally when a good company fires you go because of downsizing or problems that employee is given an exit bonus. Sure it might not be a lot; maybe a months salary.

Might not happen for everyone.

Lastly we need to be real about the problem of loosing your job and getting back on your feet. Those of you (like me) who get right back up and get a job the next day or next week... I congratulate you. It's hard.

Those of you who don't understand; you should try having over 100 different jobs before you are 23.

Really fucks with your self esteem.


> Should the company be forced to keep paying redundant employees as some form of social justice or obligation?

One would presume that much of the current agitation in the body populace regardless of political stripe would be mollified by such an attempt. The life expectancy may even rise.


Just to play angel's advocate for a bit: why the hell does getting laid off put you in such disastrously dire straights in the country that is, by most metrics, the wealthiest in the world?


Quite a few Americans have a haunting fear of a poor person getting something they don’t deserve. Hence, our social welfare system is not on par with what one expects in other rich nations. There is also what I call the Daniel Boone image that Americans tend to possess. We like to think of ourselves as self reliant and if government just got out of the way of taking our money via taxation then people wouldn’t be in any sort of predicament not of their own choosing.


It doesn't put you in dire straits. You have unemployment insurance and can get continuing equivalent health coverage under COBRA (and this is probably a qualifying life event under the ACA, so they can apply for much less expensive coverage).

Beyond that, you are living beyond your means if you don't several months of rent and utility expenses saved up. She literally admits they were living beyond their means. That is poor judgement and it's their fault.

I am very, very sympathetic to their situation but I also don't think Tesla wronged them.


80% of Americans are apparently living paycheck-to-paycheck, so I'm not sure it counts as living "beyond your means" when 80% of a country is doing it.


Nobody says corporations should not lay off. But they should give a severance package that can help the employee and his/her family go through the transition period and find a new job.


>what if companies were prevented from firing or laying off employees

This is pretty much the situation in Europe. Very hard to lay people off and therefore companies don't hire as freely.


> Should the company be forced to keep paying redundant employees as some form of social justice or obligation?

A lot of developed countries have it: its called employment insurance. Not sure about how it works in the US or if there is any there but that's pretty much what you're describing.


> And as many others in this thread have pointed out, the "sign on bonus" she appears to reference apparently vests over 4 years, which is not that uncommon.

Its also prevalent, that you receive accelerated vesting in case the company terminates the worker(such as layoff or merger)


> Just to play Devil's Advocate for a minute, what if companies were prevented from firing or laying off employees because of the financial situation of the employee?

That forms part of an unfair dismissal case in Australia, yes. It is considered when evaluating how "harsh" a dismissal is.


While I agree on the basic argument that companies should be free to disregard the personal economic situation of their employees, it seems to me that in this case the revocation of the signup bonus is unfair. It would seem fair that any unvested benefit should vest immediately if the contract is unilaterally terminated by the employer.


If you want such a deal, negotiate it before you sign the deal, not after.


Somehow the jobs which you want to do the most in tech screw you the hardest.

Like if you do back-end database boring stuff of moving data around at random Enterprise X, then you can charge through the roof because they know that the only reason you are doing this job is for the paycheck.

But if you are working on video games/Tesla/Other cool stuff and obviously passionate about the mission, you get screwed on compensation and if things go wrong, treated inhumanely.

Also, why treat people like shit when they get laid off. Can't just manager meet with the person and say, hey our division got cut, I am sorry it turned out that way, happy to help out with the job search.


This is not just tech, it's life. Ever wonder why your plumber takes 2 weeks and $150/hr to summon, but aspiring actors are on every corner parsing your 12-word coffee order for a thin fiver?

Macroeconomics is all around. :)


The key to understanding this is to understand, that aspiring to work in lottery'ish professions pays less than, predictable well established career paths.

There are only going be a dozen Tom Hanks and Chritian Bale in a country at any given time. If that is what you want to be you are going to have to settle for something way way lesser than even the normal after a few years, because you have no real skills, domain knowledge or experience compared to even the most ordinary of jobs out there.

I think you are likely to live a good life if you understand that normal is how most millionaires are made. Also don't run behind points. YouTube likes, Instagram likes etc etc. Don't use imaginary internet proxy points to measure your value, worth, or the value/worth of your work.


Wages are lower than the mainland in Hawaii because of the "sunshine tax".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_tax


At one place I worked we called it the "cool job tax" because it was mostly reflected in salary.


not sure though because the highest paying jobs (google, unicorns.. etc) are also considered the "coolest" by many.


I think Google used to be "cool", but it is more prestige now. There is definitely still cool areas which Google works on(AI, self-driving), but overall, if you are working on Gmail, there is nothing cool about it and the main motivation is not to make Gmail more awesome, but to get paid and beef your resume for future work opportunities.

Unicorns vary, but mostly they are B2B enterprise companies, which do very boring stuff day to day. But something like Discord will be exciting for many people to work at.


hm, i guess I wasn't differentiating between prestige and coolness as they both lead to high demand for the position. I wonder why coolness leads to worse conditions but prestige doesn't.


> Somehow

It's just supply&demand. Since lots (and lots) of programmers want to be video game designers, the supply is high, demand is low, => lower pay & fewer benefits.


Ex-Tesla employee here. I'm not going to comment on any of the statements because I know nothing of it, but I wanted to give one angle to the "performance bonus not paid out":

Like most employers, Tesla gives out a mix of raises, bonuses and equity renewals at times based on reviews/merit/etc. Some of them, like equity, vest over 4 years.

That's normal, etc. But, Tesla is the only employer I know of where you had an option to pick stock, options, or cash, as the vesting entity. Cash wasn't always offered, but I know it to have been an option at least once.

I don't know if that's what happened here, but it might be part of why someone thought of it as "earned bonus with delayed payout" when in reality it might not have been. I can't tell, but I wanted to mention the possibility.


> Some of them, like equity, vest over 4 years. That's normal, etc.

It is absolutely not normal to have raises and bonuses "vest over four years". I've never encountered that or heard of that at any company at all. The only reasonable way to describe that would be "highly abnormal", not normal.


I said that there was an option to get retention grant as stock, options or cash (usually just the two former but at least once all three were available). Nothing about raises or bonuses being over 4 years.

I actually can't remember getting any bonuses, just salary adjustments and retention/equity refresh.


It definitely is normal. It's how equity grants work in tech. At annual review time you may get a salary increase and an equity "refresher" that also has a 4 yr vesting period.


It is pretty normal in Bay Area. All tech companies package are like that.


I'd argue for paying at least pro-rata signing bonus in the event of a not-for-cause termination like a layoff. Probably for letting the employee keep the entire signing bonus in this case. (More likely yes if it's a lower level employee, less likely if it's a very senior executive and a larger amount, but those are more often in equity or explicitly to make up for lost options in a previous company.)

Otherwise, yes, termination and NDA/non-disparagement are fine. She has every right to be upset, but isn't really helping her case with irrelevant details. DV status is irrelevant to civilian employer.

Performance bonus would depend on the terms. Was it a 2018 bonus for work in 2018, with a payout date in 2019? In that case, if terminated for cause (or quit), sure, don't pay, but they should pay for a layoff. Again, above the legal requirement, so making it conditional on NDA/nondisparagement is fine.


> More likely yes if it's a lower level employee, less likely if it's a very senior executive and a larger amount, but those are more often in equity or explicitly to make up for lost options in a previous company.

The thing is, the higher level employees are the ones most likely to have brought in a lawyer to review their employment agreement and to have negotiated explicitly for getting a clause for this type of payout if they are let go. These are often referred to as a golden parachute or golden handshake...

Basically, fire someone near the top, whose mismanagement is likely responsible for problems, you have to pay out the nose; fire a low level employee, you pay next to nothing.


But what's her actual point? They're not allowed to fire disabled veterans? You get to keep receiving bonuses after firing?

"A signing bonus or sign-on bonus is a sum of money paid to a new employee by a company as an incentive to join that company.

To encourage employees to stay at the organization, there are often clauses in the contract whereby if the employee quits before a specified period, they must return the signing bonus."


Retracting a sign-on bonus when you're laying someone off -- rather than them quitting or being terminated for cause -- is wrong. That's tantamount to wage theft, IMO. Reversing someone's yearly bonus after the fact is just as bad.


Its not wrong unless the contract specifically says being laid off as exception.


Just because something isn't illegal/breach of contract doesn't mean it's right.


Then they shouldn't have agreed to it.


It shouldn't be wrong to assume that a contracted amount of money will actually be given to you without an added assessment that "if I'm laid off I should still get that money". Contracts cannot be used the same way one can code defensively, because when humans are involved defensive moves are also hostile moves- and the only way keeping the negotiations going is leverage on both sides.


Well, actually It doesn't matter what you think right or wrong, what matter is can u force the other party to follow what you want.


I think we're arguing what is morally correct while you're arguing what is legally correct. You're right legally, but it still sucks that everything has to be defined to the Planck length and you'll still probably get screwed.


The implication is that both sides don't necessarily have leverage, meaning you cannot force fair behavior by yourself. This power disparity is something society at whole tends to recognize, and is thus able to leverage social norms to shame a company into behaving align with societal understandings of fairness.


Did you even read what she wrote ?

She has a list of grievances not just the signing bonus. I think if Tesla had shown her husband a bit more respect she likely wouldn't have posted it.

Giving someone 0-day notice and physically escorting them out of the company is simply unacceptable.


> Giving someone 0-day notice and physically escorting them out of the company is simply unacceptable.

This is a pretty common practice, especially when dismissing employees that work with sensitive information (e.g. architecting trade secrets), or work in public-facing positions (e.g. spokesperson or PR). It avoids the risks found in the question of "what will this person do when they know they're on their way out?".


Unacceptable how? They had no responsibility to do otherwise. They no longer wanted the employee so he was removed immediately. Are they supposed to give him notice even when he has no value to them?


It's unacceptable on the level of treating people with appropriate acknowledgement of the inherent fuzziness of society- employees need time to get hired elsewhere, and employers need time to find a replacement- thus it is courteous to give notice on both sides of the relationship. By not acknowledging this fuzziness of human society, one is also giving the message that people will not be treated with what is the standard understanding of human dignity.


Sure, if he has no value to them, the company has every right to let go of him and hire someone better. Doesn't mean that they have to do it as if their worker is an unfeeling mechanical automaton whose sole purpose was to spend his existence slogging for the company, and that he somehow failed in that regard. A little empathy wouldn't hurt.


This is very common in the industry I used to work in. You’d get a sign on bonus but only after a certain threshold. Usually completion of training. If for some reason you didn’t make it to that threshold (lay-off, quit, fail training, etc.) you saw none of the bonus money. It wasn’t even paid out until that threshold was met.

I have sympathy for the couple in that it’s really tough to lose a job you just moved for but unfortunately that’s just kinda life. It doesn’t seem to me a Twitter rant solves anything other than marking one’s self as a potential headache to other employers.


If you fail training or quit you should not get the bonus. If you were fired for cause same thing. That's on the employee.

But layoffs were coming and probably known, that was out of the employee's control. Pay the damn bonus as goodwill.

Does a company want a reputation of "yeah they hired me but unfortunately with cutbacks I was new, but they made good on their promises even though I hadn't been there long enough"

Or "they hired me, enticed me with a signing bonus and then didn't bother making good, fuck that company"

I don't care if the contract specifically allowed that, it will leave a bitter taste in that employee's mouth. And it will be repeated regardless of the original contract. Reputation matters more than some line in a contract.


There’s a difference between quitting and being laid off, you know that right?


There are two sides to this story, we don't know why he was fired, and we don't know Tesla's policies regarding bonuses.

It sounds like it wasn't a one time payment, but rather a monthly addition. It makes complete sense to retract that after firing.


It sounds like the sign on bonus she’s referring to vests over 4 years. Unless I’m mistaken, this is an initial stock grant and you only get the full amount if you stay with the company for 4 years.


It always bothered me when people who wanted me to join their startup were bothered by me not wanting wait for something to vest that long. So you mean to tell me I can do all the work you need me to do right now, and then just get rid of me before it vests and I don't get it?

I really think there should be 2 different vesting terms - 1 in case I quit (can be longer term in this case) - and another in case I get fired (shorter vesting period IMO). Call it early termination.


If that's what they were secretly planning to do, then of course they're bothered by you not playing along.

What startup was it that was discussed here a while ago, where the founder was describing shareholding ex-employees as "dead weight" who didn't deserve the shares since they were no longer working there? I'm a guessing similar mentality was at play here.


That kind of confusion happens because people don't understand how ownership really works. Stocks are not compensation in the sense as deferred bonus, but really more like ownership(albeit whatever small amount of it).

Say I went ahead and bought 10,000 shares in some company X for $10,000(A mutually agreed transaction, in which company accepted the money for a percentage of ownership). Now I just choose to buy-and-forget it for say 30 years. At the 31st year, the company makes it big, say the value of each share now is $1000. Now my shares are worth $1,000,000,000 . Imagine the current CEO of X, saying its `unfair` or `dead weight` or `undeserving` or whatever because the per unit of stock price went up.

Its the same thing with employees. The company just paid, stocks instead of money. How would it be any different than some investor putting in the money and buying the same amount of shares for that same amount of money and getting rich later?

If you really think your company is going to be very rich. You shouldn't even bother to pay in stocks. Just pay good salaries and be done with it. The trouble is most people know their companies are going to fail, so they have no qualms in giving imaginary points of ownership, only to realize later it could have all been theirs.


But keeping 50% (or whatever fraction) of a fortune is still great, and you don't have a lot of money now, so it does make sense to pay in stock even if you believe it'll be worth a lot more later.


So now everyone who wants to leave the company will be a negative force, hoping to be fired. Not such a great idea.

Vesting is fine as a concept. Just understand that whatever dollar amount to they're telling you is something you have the chance to earn over a period of time. It's not a bonus.


So it's not a bonus, it's a loaded roll of the dice?

I think there is merit in having immediate vesting in the case of no-fault dismissal. It's the company choosing to terminate the contract unliaterally, the employee has fulfilled his part of the deal.


Then vest over a reasonable period of time, like weekly or monthly, and not annually?


That seems reasonable. But from my understanding the complaint was that someone was promised $x over four years and then let go after two years, and lost $x/2.


And they were probably well aware about this when he joined. He must have signed and agreed to those terms.


Wasn't it Amazon where they routinely fire people a few months before the vesting date?


Side points;

- Justified or not his wife might be jeopardising her husbands future employment with her tweets. Any new employer has to consider what if I have to fire him again for whatever reason. You're risking angry wife dragging you/company through the media. No-one wants that regardless of being in the right or not.

- She says 'I'm not covered by NDA' and brings up information about about pay/benefits etc. She might be creating an issue here if Tesla wants to push back. It pretty obvious he husband told her those things so while its normal to discuss with your wife, is that an NDA breach on his behalf?

I think this is a good lesson in biting your tongue and focusing on the end game. Howl at the moon but not social media. She can't possibly think this rant will help him keep his job, get a better payout or get a new job.


Maybe she thinks that she can cause Tesla a PR event. If she can, she may well get what she's after (an apology? the 2018 bonus? the rest of the as-yet-unvested sign-on bonus?).


It's pretty crazy to see rationalizations here for reversing the signing bonus and annual bonus.

I can't in good faith ever do that to a high-performing employee I'm making redundant.


>>I can't in good faith

That's the problem ain't it. Some exec higher up management is offered some delta money incentive, above their regular bonus to make this kind of stuff happen. Very likely they think having some extra money as bonus(due to cost savings) is more than ok, to buy that expensive home in Menlo Park- If it takes screwing a few hundred/thousand employees along the way.

Nobody ever does Judas work unless there are gold coins to receive in return for nailing the unsuspecting through their limbs.


> I can't in good faith ever do that to a high-performing employee I'm making redundant.

How virtuous of you. What about a mediocre performing one?


A mediocre performing employee shouldn't be getting an annual bonus.


> They took his laptop 10 minutes after he found out and he couldn’t save his personal files.

I have a hard time understanding why people put personal files on a company laptop, much less ones that you don't also have stored elsewhere. This is what you should expect to happen.


Disabled veterans should be given generous benefits. These benefits are owed to them by the government for the services they provided to the government. Private companies have no responsibility for this.


And from the government they should get exactly what they signed a contract for. Nothing more or less.


Tesla seems to be working very hard to cultivate a really poor reputation.

They could find it more difficult to hire in the future. Maybe that doesn’t matter for assembly jobs but software engineers don’t grow on trees.


The context of the layoffs should have every tesla employee and owner worried. As the spring debt comes due, without more investors or more profitability, the company is very likely to change.

Also consider that gm, Ford, fiat aren't in a market or cash position to consolidate. The best hopes for Tesla may be Toyota, VW, or Aapl right now.


I think companies should be allowed to lay-off people. The lay-off process should be fair. A few months of salary to sustain, paid off bonuses due, RSUs about to be vested etc. Don’t cancel perf bonus or RSU vesting by laying off people a week before they are due. That is just straight up evil.


>Should the company be forced to keep paying redundant >employees as some form of social justice or obligation?

Well that is an American point of view where companies are there for shareholders profits only.

Fortunately here and elsewhere in the world we have good laws in place where a company needs to notify an affected employee or section of an impending layoff so that you have at least time to find alternative employment.

We also get one week of pay for each year worked as part of your redundancy.


People get laid off all the time. Business is not hostage to your performance.

In the end we all are just numbers of the XL sheet. Treat your company just like one.

All the talk about mission reeks of naivety. Seriously, I can understand the emotional outburst but it is unnecessary.


The last bit about having to sign an NDA sounds very legally questionable.


She issued a correction on Twitter: only the employer-sponsored health insurance is contingent on signing the NDA, not the 60 days of salary.

> Because I’m not a labor attorney I got this part wrong the first twelve times I read it. (Legalese amirite?) If we don’t sign, they pull 60 days health insurance but not the actual payroll. Not complete horse shit but still horse shitty. /end correction

https://twitter.com/_KariedAway_/status/1087148173984903169


If he got no consideration for it, he’s not bound by it. Never sign anything when you’re being fired unless they offer you money and in that case ask for much more than they open with.


> Never sign anything when you’re being fired unless they offer you money and in that case ask for much more than they open with.

+1

I'm not even having a conversation unless the topic is how much they're going to pay for further interaction upon being fired without notice, let alone signing anything. Pants are immediately coming off, and plans are made to head to the beach.


> ...and in that case ask for much more than they open with.

Have you (or anyone reading this) done that? What was the result?


What’s the downside? If someone is fired giving the company anything for free is throwing money away.

I had a boss at a startup let me know I was being let go with two weeks notice. I immediately asked for $20k or else I would walk out without helping anyone transition.

He gave me the $20k (1/5th of my salary!!)


It sounds questionable because she was lying about it. She got called out for it and changed the story.


It's sad, though, how we need to build a lot more housing so the rent is not in the stratosphere for everyone. We don't need a green new deal, we need a housing Manhattan project.


How? You can't build too densely in an earthquake zone. And you can't move because the thing that makes Silicon Valley special is that CA's constitution makes non compete clauses null and void so that venture capitalists and startups can form with little worry of being sued by the companies that they are trying to disrupt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-compete_clause#California


>You can't build too densely in an earthquake zone.

And yet Tokyo exists.


And Mexico City


hindsight is 20/20 but:

- believing in Elon Musk - having 0 savings and wanting to immediately spend any theoretical savings - wanting to live in NYC and then SF despite no savings - having a child despite the above 2 - apparently not reading an employment contract before signing it - venting on twitter in the hopes that hashtag-shaming of Musk will achieve anything


This twitter account has all the classic signs of troll/bot. Wonder how it made it to hacker news.

After years of read-only mode, having to create a new account to bring this to people’s attention. Please check the Twitter timeline for yourself before jumping to conclusions. I hate Tesla as much as the next guy, but this story needs to be checked out before upvoting.


Just to clear up a specific point that I see a lot of people getting wrong here about the bonus stuff. I can at least say for the performance bonus it seems weird but thats how it works. Even though its money to reward your performance in “the past” so you’ve effectively “earned it”, if you quit like I did or get fired apparenty if it hasn’t hit the date that it gets paid to you yet you don’t get it. I think most people get surprised by this fact but since that specific situation is fairly rare I don’t think theres much effort to change the policy. I don’t even know what the policy really is, but just wanted to say that part at least of losing the entire performance bonus happened to me. But since I quit I think it’s more reasonable to lose it, that’s pretty lame to lose it when you’re fired since I had the time to factor that into my decision making knowing I would lose it where when you are fired and blindsided like that you are effectively losing a lot of money that you had already accounted for. I know corporations aren’t really dictated by emotion, but man it sure seems like there’s a lot of “bad luck” all at once here... that is really unfortunate. Maybe some rules could be changed to prevent certain things overlapping up like this. Getting fired is one thing, but getting fired and losing money you had already accounted for and technically “earned” is definitely putting you in an even harder spot. Really wish him the best. Also this isnt like tesla is going out of their way to screw this guy, these are just standard industry practices, but hearing situations like these definitely makes you wonder if they should be.

Also just to clear up some lingo for people that I still see people getting wrong:

Signing bonus Cash sum you “recieve” for accepting the job.

Performance bonus Cash sum you recieve several months after you’re latest performance review based on your “rating” for that half or year.

Equity (RSU) is seperate from both of these things but you can receive them in both situations. They then follow a vesting schedule that when you leave before the various vest dates its obvious that you wont receive the compensation.


The lady needs to consult with a labor attorney as soon as possible. They should not sign anything until after that meeting.


Theres a very good chance Tesla got a large tax break for hiring vets. This has been true for a while. They could be trying to abuse this be having a rolling hiring of vets. But anybody saying that Tesla owes nothing doesn't realize that there are employee protections out there.


It is not very surprising when companies behave this way. They act in their own interest which oftentimes aligns with employee interests, but not always. I'm pretty sure the only way to guarantee more ethical behavior is to regulate it.


It surprises me that a company as reliant on good will as Tesla is would do this.

Literally every part of Tesla's business is relying on good will. Employees working hard for substandard wages. Customers buying luxury vehicles and sticking down deposits years in advance. Politicians creating subsidies and buying grid scale batteries. Etc.

It's unlikely that this move (cutting the bonuses of everyone laid off) has saved Tesla more money than this one post hitting hacker news cost them.


Even as I read this, I am aware that I’m desperately trying to rationalize Tesla’s actions. I’m pretty sure I will be able to do it shortly. My guess is Tesla’s goodwill is safe for now.


This is Musk's PR budget in action, folks.


Unfortunately I don’t believe regulation would work in this case. Not because it wouldn’t be effective, but because it wouldn’t happen. People tend to wonder why e.g. Nordic unions are so strong. It is because they have real power. They have organizations, newspapers, building, cash and everything else that you need. The prime minister of Sweden was even recruited directly from being the head of a union, because of that unions long standing relationship with the party.

This is why I always smirk a little bit when Americans speak out against unions like they actually would have a choice to form a an organization that would take power from the corporations and politicians.

Eh, I don’t know what my point was. I guess I wouldn’t expect a solution anytime soon because it is a power issue.


I would personally hate to be in a union. I would much rather deal with the arbitrary authority of a self interested management, which is semi-meritocratic, than the stagnant seniority based hierarchy of a union.


My whole argument was essentially that you don’t have choice. So how does your wish matter? I would argue that it doesn’t since you couldn’t change it even if you wanted to. Or I guess you could say you’re in luck since you are getting exactly what you want. I mean, what is the odds of that?


My wish alone doesn't matter, and why would it? I am not the only engineer. As a collective, software engineers absolutely do have a choice as you can see from the recent collective bargaining that caused Google to drop unpopular projects. Obviously that leverage extends into the realm of compensation too.


So your proposed solution is collective bargaining (which isn’t really arbitrary) as long as it isn’t actually legally protected which is what a union is? I guess that is choice, just seemingly not a very realistic one.


You wonder how long the software bubble will last.


But this is also why Silicon Valley didn't happen in Norway.


No, it isn’t. SV didn’t happen anywhere in Europe, very likely because of WWII. Norway is mostly concerned about oil these days, but Sweden have been doing very well in tech for its size. Second most unicorn per capita in the world after SV is what people like to say.


Not even close. It's all down to culture and where their priorities lie.

If WWII is any indication, the Germans would be very good at developing new tech. (They did it during the war)

I believe that the reason why Europe has not had a good chance at a SV:

1. They don't rely on credit for the most part. Using Debit/EC cards are more previlent.

2. High taxes and cheap sources of labor: Most tech is outsourced to Eastern Europe. There is some seriously good talent there, but there's a heck of a lot that isn't great. The treatement of talent is used as a cheap cog in the machine. Hard to hire the best talent when the wages are at a particular level.

3. Strong labor unions and policies: Germany requires companies over a particular size to have representation from the labor force on the board. (This has created the wackamole in companies splitting off)

4. The regulations and monopolies are pretty strong in Europe: it's hard to compete and overthrow say sap or mediamarkt. (Although those are prime for a disruption).

5. Companies play fast and loose there. Due to strong workers rights, they're still playing tricks to prevent people from being full time. (Contractors, probation periods, etc)


You're making an argument about why Silicon Valley isn't in Europe based on your understanding of Europe today, when Silicon Valley isn't emerging in California today, it emerged in 1970.

Let's take Intel as an example: Intel was founded in 1968 by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. Why do you think there's no European equivalent of those two people? Very possibly because Herr Moore and Monsieur Noyce would have died in WW2 or fled to America. If they had survived and started up a semi-conductor company they would've quickly found themselves unable to compete with the American companies who had the advantage of a massive military budget to win contracts and engineers from.

Your point also don't address the situation in which SV emerged in the US. High taxes? Denmark has 22% corp tax and 52% income tax. Income tax when silicon valley emerged was over 70%.


I can only say that I find it silly that you are suggesting things like German labor laws when it was a divided country, half literally communist, until 1990. Far more likely that SV is largely a result of the US lead in semiconductors which could only happen beacause of winning, or not losing, WWII. Same is actually true of Sweden as well.


Norway is probably better off by not having Silicon Valley.


..Or they could have interests more aligned. I would like to see more companies pay in stock rather than cash. That would mean sharing in company profits, and having a vote in company policies. If companies didn't pay dividends or give voting shares, that would be a reason to pick another company.


I've seen so many posts here complaining about how stock is worthless and please just give them cash. You literally can't win against the mob.


The stocks typically given are non-voting shares.


This is a bit of a tangent but what is with people posting long-form stories on Twitter, a platform whose defining feature is you say what you have to say in 140 characters? Just blog it somewhere and post a link!


Has anyone ever alleged that Tesla or SpaceX treat their employees in some out-of-the-ordinary admirable way?

Wondering what the outrage is going to be when cash rich FAANGs start acting like the rest of Fortune 495.


All irrelevant. The firing was nothing personal. Tesla needs to stay alive. These people can either all suffer minority now, or whole company suffer later.


This is why you pay the bonuses and pay the severance and pay the health insurance for 6 months. That way you don’t act like an asshole.


The (new) American dream is a rnd() function


That'd be an improvement for many people compared to the status quo.


Maybe. I feel that "calculated risk" is no risk at all.

Blindly taking chances "just do it" fashion with no clue about possible consequences it's not very smart, especially since most decisions affect someone else negatively.

There's randomness in life, no doubt about it.

We can account for it: plan B, realist optimism, etc...

But "hoping" that it will all happen just because of sheer luck... I don't think it's smart.

For instance, I think this is what happened to FYRE (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyre_Festival), there's a great documentary on Netflix. I cringed.


At what point wasnt it?

The periods of economic growth and large scale upwards mobility that people like to point to in order to support their indoctrination were the also happening worldwide almost as soon as trade was liberalized.


Let’s not allow tweetstorms about personal drama on HN.

What’s the point of policing the comments with an iron fist if the links are a free-for-all!? It’s such a weird dichotomy to be hellbanning people for being snarky while every day the front page is filled with flame bait.


cancelling the bonus is evil. Tesla, shame on you !!! I am not gonna buy your cars.


Her story is heartbreaking, and reminds me that once a company is “done with you” they don’t care about you anymore regardless of what kind of employee you were. Never expect a company to do right by you. Always act in your own best interests, even if those are not in alignment with the company. If working in the Bay Area has taught me anything, is you always need to be planning your next move. There is no such thing as job security in our present economy. Working at a large company is often times even more dangerous than a small one or startup because decisions like this which are made far away from your own sphere of influence. Companies are like sociopaths: they have no capacity for empathy, and if any does exist, it’s likely been legislated into them, taken from them by force or by public shame.

If there are any companies left that actually do treat their employees like anything more than disposable assets, it’s only a matter of time before they are “disrupted” by one that is willing to do whatever it takes. Capitalism is a perverse force that cares only for efficiency, not for human lives.


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I see you're a recent joiner of the site and have another comment much like this one. For what it's worth, I suggest reading the community guidelines, as you'll see why this is getting downvoted: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


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You forgot the sarcasm tag.


> We are barely making ends meet.

Wow. This is people working at high tech companies in bay area. Why are they being paid subsistence salaries. Too many people flooding into bay area? Why are ppl accepting such low salaries.

So strange to me as an outsider. Whats the end game, just tough it out for a few yrs and build your resume and then get out?


A lot of people are not having a good time in the US. Every once in a while that shines through. Like in this article where Ford (the company) is commenting on hiring:

“The company said it takes about two weeks to collect enough résumés from state employment agencies, minority and veterans groups and employee referrals. Then each job candidate must pass a basic reading comprehension and problem-solving test. That preliminary screening takes at least a week, likely longer, Ford said. Those who pass the written test must then be cleared by a doctor for physical activity and pass a drug test. To get 400 drug-free employees, Ford said it probably has to test 600 or 700 job candidates, a process that takes another two weeks.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2018/05/01/no-way-t...


A big part of it is just how expensive it is to live here. She mentions 3k on rent, for example. Kids are expensive as well, so while salaries can often appear high, the costs often scale to match.

As she also mentions, it sounds like a large part of his total compensation was tied up in bonuses, which can be great when they work out well, but are much more discretionary than salary, as the story indicates.


> As she also mentions, it sounds like a large part of his total compensation was tied up in bonuses, which can be great when they work out well, but are much more discretionary than salary, as the story indicates.

Sounds like they took a gamble and didn't work out.

also is this a scam? https://www.gofundme.com/help-kari-pollock039s-family


I don't think it's fair to rationalize poor labor practices. If they had paid out this worker's remaining sign up bonus and his 2018 performance bonus, we would've likely never heard of this. I know I won't recommend Tesla vehicles to anyone anymore (this is the final publicized labor issue "straw" as a customer).

And if Tesla is so cash strapped they couldn't pay that comp out for folks to move on mostly whole (60 days severance, remaining bonuses due, COBRA), management needs to be replaced with someone who can properly forecast cashflow, and more to the point, manage a business of this scale appropriately.

EDIT: I have reported the GoFundMe campaign you mention to have the organizer verified.


This is not the first time tesla has been accused of the poor labor practices( like you pointed out). They voluntarily made the deal with the devil, had no qualms about working for such a company. Why would a known shitty company treat this particular person any differently.


I think most people don’t realize just how expensive it is to live here, until they get here.


I feel like Tesla gets away with lower salaries because of “the mission to save the world”. With Tesla on the resume he should be able to find another job where he’ll probably make more than he was.




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