Tesla, Mercedes Imported Illegal Workers to Build U.S. Plants, Lawsuit Claims

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 05: A Tesla Model S car is displayed at a Tesla showroom on November 5, 2013 in Palo Alto, California. Tesla will report third quarter earnings today after the closing bell. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Multinational automaker corporations like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen used illegal foreign workers to build their plants in the United States, according to a recently unsealed lawsuit.

Through the German hiring firm Eisenmann, companies like Tesla and Mercedes-Benz imported hundreds of low-wage Eastern European construction workers on B-1 and B-2 visas to build their U.S. auto-plants, the lawsuit states as the Mercury News reports.

The lawsuit alleges that more than 140 Eastern European workers were brought to the U.S. to expand factories – like Tesla’s recently built paint plant in Fremont, California – for sometimes at wages as low as $5.00 an hour.

In the suit, Tesla and other auto-makers are blamed alongside Eisenmann for aiding in falsifying worker “documents to the United States to secure illegal visas for their direct and indirect employees to come to the United States.”

If the foreign workers had not been imported by Eisenmann for Tesla and the other automakers, the lawsuit says hundreds of American workers could have been employed.

Claims of paying workers low wages, violating U.S. immigration laws, and failing to pay appropriate taxes are all included in the lawsuit, as Mercury News notes:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company paid appropriate wages to contractor Eisenmann, a manufacturer of industrial systems — about $55 an hour. Eisenmann subcontracted the work to a Slovenian company, ISM Vuzem. Workers interviewed by this news organization said they received a little more than $10 an hour from Vuzem. Pay vouchers submitted as part of Lesnik’s suit indicate he was paid as little as $5 an hour.

The suit claims Eisenmann and various subcontractors hired at least 200 foreign workers to build the paint shop at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

The men were given letters endorsed by Eisenmann stating they were supervisors with “specialized knowledge” of Eisenmann equipment and construction, enabling them to receive B-1/B-2 visas, the suit says. Those business visas allow for limited work — typically meetings, negotiations or conferences — but broadly ban hands-on labor like construction work.

Eisenmann repeated this visa and hiring process at automobile and parts factories across the country, the suit says. It also claims the contract work broke federal law and allowed companies to avoid taxes owed to the government.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) began a probe into whistle-blower Gregor Lesnik’s claims of abuse by the multinational automakers and the lawsuit is moving forward.

Lesnik is one of the hundreds of Eastern European construction workers who were imported to the U.S. to help build factories for allegedly low wages. While on the job, Lesnik reportedly fell through the Tesla factory roof and suffered multiple injuries and broken bones, leading to a $550,000 settlement with the company.

Last month, Breitbart Texas reported on former Eisenmann manager Gerald Greiner’s allegations against the automakers and the subcontracting company, where he claims that American workers could have readily done the job of building the factories, but that Eastern European workers were used instead to keep wages low.

There are four pipelines for which multinational corporations use to import foreign workers. Those options include legal immigrants who come to the U.S. for work; non-immigrants who come to the U.S. on any of the employment-based visa programs available; foreign nationals who are allowed to work legally on Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) – like those given amnesty through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; and illegal aliens who enter the U.S. mostly through the southern border.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder


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