The former IT employee was laid off at this Tesla factory in Fremont, California in June 2022.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
- In June, Elon Musk notified Tesla employees about plans to lay off 10% of salaried employees.
- A former employee says the morning they were let go, their supervisor and skip-level supervisor were online before 9 a.m., which was unusual.
- This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with an anonymous former Tesla employee, as told to reporter Jenna Gyimesi.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a former Tesla employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their career. Insider has verified their identity and employment. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
I worked in IT at Tesla for three months before being laid off earlier this month. On my way home from the factory that day I thought, “Wow, that was really messed up.” I didn’t even get to say goodbye to any of my coworkers.
And then I thought about all the hiring freezes in tech and started worrying about how I’m going to get another job.
I recalled the scene from The Wolf of Wall Street when the company gets disbanded and everyone’s crying — it felt a lot like that at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California two weeks ago.
I noticed red flags the day I got fired
When I arrived at the office, I put my things down and went to get myself some cereal. When I came back, I saw that my supervisor and her supervisor were online — they had green check marks next to their names. This was already unusual since they don’t usually come in for hours and it was well before 9 a.m.
A few minutes later my supervisor came in, put her things down, grabbed her laptop, and walked off without saying anything. That was the next red flag. My coworker, who had also just arrived, told me someone I worked with had been laid off the day before. I knew they worked at Tesla for years and I had only been there for a few months.
I started to notice more and more red flags. I saw security around the main entrance and I saw them walking people out. I saw people crying in the lobby and wondered what they were crying about. And then I remembered that Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent out an email last week saying he was going to cut 10% of salaried people.
Then I got an email from my supervisor asking if I could join her in a meeting room and that we needed to chat for a bit. I knew right then they were going to let me go.
I walked over to the room and she was already seated with her laptop. She asked me to shut the door and she immediately logged onto an online Zoom meeting with another supervisor and a member of HR. They then told me they were letting me go because of the layoffs.
I didn’t think I would be one of employees laid off
I was instantly surprised. I just assumed it would be someone else getting laid off since I was recently hired. Why go through the trouble of hiring me just to let me go?
When I left the room, security was already waiting outside of the room with my things. Everything felt very coordinated.
I turned in my badge and security walked me out. As I was leaving, I saw other people in meeting rooms with security waiting outside. The security guards wore plain clothing, but it was still very obvious who they were and what was happening.
There was a handful of people crying when I got to the lobby. I walked outside and saw through the building windows that even more people were in meeting rooms, holding tissue boxes and wiping their tears away. I recognized some of them were colleagues who were on work visas, so I don’t know what their situation looks like now.
Tesla offered me an Uber voucher to get home but I had driven in. I sent out a quick email while I was still outside the plant. I wrote that it was nice working with everyone and that I was sorry I wasn’t able to say goodbye in person. I had lost access to my email by midnight that night.
I feel like I’m starting over again
As I drove home, my mind raced trying to think of next steps. I still don’t understand why they would lay off someone they just hired, and I wish I never accepted the position in the first place. I had to go through four interviews just to get this job, and now it feels like I’m starting the long, difficult job search process from the very beginning.
The kicker is that I actually really like Elon Musk. I just wish he would listen more. A lot of people were unhappy with him changing the work policies. And his goals are really big — I’ve seen employees sleeping on the couches in the factories because they’re working 12-hour days, four days a week to meet their goals. And it’s quite taxing on their bodies to work like that all day.
But still, I think that the company and Elon Musk are doing good things for the world.
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.