Tesla has reopened its Fremont, California production plant against local county ordinances. And employees called back to work may lose their benefits—or by some accounts even face termination—should they choose to stay home over COVID-19 fears.
According to an email sent to workers by Tesla's human resources lead Valerie Workman, the loss of benefits is a state decision, not Tesla's.
“Once you are called back, you will no longer be on furlough so if you choose not to work, it may impact your unemployment benefits as determined by your local government agency — and not by Tesla. We completely respect your decision and will support you, without any penalties from us," Workman wrote in the email.
Tesla, helmed by CEO Elon Musk, filed suit against California's Alameda County this weekend after county officials refused to consider the electric vehicle maker an 'essential business' that could re-open this week.
Musk went ahead and resumed production at the plant in defiance of Alameda County's health orders.
Musk says he plans to move the production facility, and the group's headquarters, out of California to either Texas or Nevada.
The CEO has been an outspoken critic of stay-at-home rules to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
On an earnings call in April, Musk compared shelter-in-place orders to imprisonment: "I would call it, 'forcibly imprisoning people in their homes' against all their Constitutional rights, in my opinion, and breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country."