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A Female Engineer Is Suing Tesla Over a Culture of ‘Pervasive Harassment’

Updated: Mar 01, 2017 5:25 AM ET | Originally published: Feb 28, 2017

This story has been updated with comment from Tesla.

A female engineer has spoken out about a discrimination lawsuit against Tesla that she filed last year.

AJ Vandermeyden, 33, has accused Tesla of ignoring her claims of "pervasive harassment" and says she has suffered "mental distress" and "humiliation," The Guardian reports.

Her lawyers have alleged that Vandermeyden and fellow female engineers were passed over for promotions, even though they were “equally or more qualified” than the men who received them.

The papers also claim that the engineer was subject to " inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls" on the factory floor and that her complaints about this caused issues with Tesla's management.

The claims come as the technology industry grapples with attention on its gender equality. A blogpost by Susan Fowler a former Uber engineer recounting similar allegations of sexist working practices went viral earlier this month, sparking outcry. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has now launched a related investigation.

In a statement to Fortune, a Tesla spokesperson noted that the company is "committed to creating a positive workplace environment that is free of discrimination" for all employees. The spokesperson continued:

Ms. Vandermeyden joined Tesla in a sales position in 2013, and since then, despite having no formal engineering degree, she has sought and moved into successive engineering roles, beginning with her work in Tesla’s paint shop and eventually another role in General Assembly. Even after she made her complaints of alleged discrimination, she sought and was advanced into at least one other new role, evidence of the fact that Tesla is committed to rewarding hard work and talent, regardless of background.

After Vandermeyden first brought her concerns to Tesla over a year ago, the company says it hired EMC2, an outside employment-related legal counseling firm, to investigate the claims so that, if warranted, the company could take action to address the issues. But, the Tesla spokesperson added:

After an exhaustive review of the facts, the independent investigator determined that Ms. Vandermeyden’s “claims of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation have not been substantiated.”

Vandermeyden’s lawyer, Therese Lawless, has criticized investigator's report. “We did not believe that it was a comprehensive report," she told the Guardian. "We vehemently disagree with their finding.”

Vandermeyden still works at Tesla, according to the Guardian.

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