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NLRB dismisses one claim against Tesla, but others remain

The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a claim from workers at a Tesla Gigafactory (TSLA) in Buffalo, New York who argued they were fired over their attempts to unionize. However, there are two other claims the NLRB and Tesla will need to resolve, one regarding recordings at work and another which claims the EV maker was soliciting complaints about union activity. Yahoo Finance Legal Correspondent Alexis Keenan weighs in this ongoing battle and— and the company’s myriad of legal woes.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video transcript

SEANA SMITH: We're going to get to another story here that we're tracking. And Tesla notching a small victory. Now the National Labor Relations Board dismissing claims that the EV maker fired workers over attempts to unionize. But it seems Tesla's legal troubles maybe are not ever really over because the labor board did say that two separate claims have merit.

We want to bring in Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan for more on this story. And Alexis, let's start with the dismissal there of that claim. How big of a win is this for Tesla?

ALEXIS KEENAN: It's a win. And they have a mixed bag of going against the claims that are filed by workers through the NLRB. But this one in particular was happening at the Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York. There were a group of about 30 plus workers. And they said that they were fired in retaliation for trying to unionize. Tesla said, no, that's not the case. These workers were fired based on their performance.

The NLRB, they agreed, and dismissed this entirely. But what they did do is they held back a couple other complaints that these employees had. And they are claims, one, that Tesla has a policy saying that workers cannot record their meetings inside at work. They say that they can't do that unless they have the consent of all the workers there. The NLRB saying that that's just too broad of a policy.

Also, the workers are complaining that Tesla had solicited employee complaints in response to union activity. So what they're going to do? They're going to go back to the drawing board on those. And they're going to try to negotiate a settlement with the company. The NLRB says if Tesla does not reach a settlement with us, we will go ahead and file formal complaints on those two claims.

DIANE KING HALL: So how likely is it that they can get that point move forward. For instance, about saying they can't record because, for instance, we know certain states has that legal siding on, one, it can be one party.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Right, which is the case for New York. So that's part of the argument for these workers.

DIANE KING HALL: Because we're thinking about New York State. And we know that is the case there. And seeing that NLRB is saying this is too broad. How likely is it that this could end up working in the favor and following the laws of New York?

ALEXIS KEENAN: Yeah. So they have a point, right? One party states a one party state. But this is also a private company. So they're going to have to come to some agreement with Tesla to find a happy ground. And, look, Tesla has had, like I said, a mixed bag of arguing back and forth with employees. You have just two weeks ago, an appellate court sided with Tesla overruling the NLRB, saying that workers cannot wear inside at work pro-union shirts when they're at work.

Also in April, the NLRB a judge ruled that Tesla had some service center employees, supervisors in Florida, and that they illegally barred workers from talking about their pay, how much money they make. And then you have also on appeal, one more instance where Tesla is objecting to an NLRB ruling that's based on a Musk tweet all the way back in 2018, when he said that workers who try to unionize that they would then put at jeopardy their stock options. So that one is still on appeal.

And, look, Tesla is facing all kinds of pressure from unions. UAW even saying that they want to go after the company aggressively. So with all that basket of considerations, they're going to have to come to some sort of middle ground I think on these issues that are at hand.

DIANE KING HALL: Yeah, union issues, not just here in the US, as well, for Tesla. All right. We'll continue to watch this story. Thanks so much, Alexis Keenan. We appreciate it.