Tesla informs employees on Juneteenth that they can take off holiday unpaid

The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2018.
The Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on Thursday, July 26, 2018.
Kirsten Korosec

Just before 8 a.m. PT Friday, Tesla's head of human resources sent an email telling U.S. employees they could take the day off to observe Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

Moments later, HR head Valerie Capers Workman clarified that employees who chose to take the day off would be unpaid, according to an email viewed by TechCrunch. CNBC was the first to report the morning emails. The email was sent as workers on the west coast were starting their workday. For those in other time zones, including those who are employed at the company's Buffalo, New York factory, the email arrived well into the work day.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

The timing of the emails — sent on the day of the holiday — has prompted criticism. It's also raised questions about how it might affect a planned Juneteenth demonstration at Tesla's Fremont, Calif., factory, which employs more than 10,000 workers.

Later this morning, and perhaps in response to push back, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Juneteenth will be considered a U.S. holiday at Tesla and SpaceX moving forward.

In a later tweet, Musk confirmed that it would require employees to take a paid-time off or PTO. Employees are allotted a certain number of PTO days per year depending on length of employment and position. Several employees, who will remain unnamed because they're not authorized to talk to the media, have told TechCrunch that they used up their PTO to stay home as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas became aware of their freedom when a Union general reached the region two months after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in Virginia. This was more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

This year, following nationwide protests about police brutality and systematic racism against Black people, dozens of tech companies have announced plans to recognize Juneteenth and offer it as a paid holiday, including Square and Twitter. Other companies have announced other plans to recognize the day.

Tech companies just found out about Juneteenth, and this is what they’re doing

More From

  • A hacker used Twitter's own 'admin' tool to spread cryptocurrency scam

    A hacker allegedly behind a spate of Twitter account hacks on Wednesday gained access to a Twitter "admin" tool on the company's network that allowed them to hijack high-profile Twitter accounts to spread a cryptocurrency scam, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident. A Twitter spokesperson, when reached, did not comment on the claims. Twitter later confirmed in a series of tweets that the attack was caused by "a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools."

  • VC Brad Feld has a new book -- and some advice -- for startups trying to deal with the unknowable

    How do founders balance the need to manage these complex systems with the fact that controlling these complex systems is sometimes out of their hands? BF: The first step is getting rid of the notion that you can control the systems, and instead focus on what you can influence [because] in the context of what you can influence, that starts to become a place to focus where you put your energy.

  • Benchmark-backed Optimizely confirms it has laid off 15% of staff

    Optimizely, a San Francisco-based startup that popularized the concept of A/B testing, has laid off 15% of its staff, the company confirmed in a statement to TechCrunch. The startup was founded in 2009 by Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen on the idea that it helps to have customers experience different versions of the website, also known as A/B testing, to see what iteration sticks best. Optimizely last raised $50 million in Series D financing from Goldman Sachs, bringing its total venture capital secured to date to $200 million.

  • Twitter stock slides after-hours amid scramble to contain high-profile account hacks

    Twitter's stock slid as much as 4% in after-hours trading as the company tried to swat down hackers that had taken over the accounts of multiple high-profile users. Accounts belonging to Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West, Joe Biden, Warren Buffet, Apple and many others had their accounts compromised Wednesday afternoon, all posting tweets directing users to a Bitcoin scam. A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch the company was “looking into” the matter but didn’t immediately comment.