Tesla has drawn backlash after offering employees an unpaid day off for Juneteenth, but only informing them the morning of.
Tesla’s human resources department informed employees on Friday morning, saying they had the option to take the day off without pay for the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S., according to CNBC.
The email reportedly arrived late in the morning on the east coast and after many had already arrived for shifts on the west coast.
‘Tesla fully supports Juneteenth for any US employee that wants to take the day off to celebrate, reflect or participate in events that are meaningful to you. This is an unpaid PTO and excused absence,’ the email read, according to CNBC.
Workers assemble cars on the line at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California in a file photo. The company told employees on Friday morning that they could take an unpaid day off
Two Tesla employees told the outlet that they were offended by the late notice, and by the fact that the company did not advertise this policy prior to June 19.
Later in the day, around 1pm ET, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: ‘Juneteenth is henceforth considered a US holiday at Tesla & SpaceX.’
‘It does require use of a paid-time-off day, which is true of many other holidays,’ he added.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
Juneteenth burst into the national conversation this year after widespread demonstrations against police brutality and racism.
Companies including Twitter, Nike and the NFL announced that it would be an employee holiday this year.
The date commemorates the day that the last slaves in America were informed of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.
Former President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, and it became effective the following January 1. But it wasn’t enforced in many places until after the Civil War ended in April 1865.
Word didn’t reach the last enslaved black people until June 19 of that year, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted: ‘Juneteenth is henceforth considered a US holiday at Tesla & SpaceX’ but added employees would have to use a vacation day
Most states and the District of Columbia now recognize Juneteenth, which is a blend of the words June and 19th, as a state holiday or day of recognition, like Flag Day.
But in the wake of protests over George Floyd’s death this year, more Americans – especially white Americans – are becoming familiar with the holiday and commemorating it.
‘We didn’t just learn about Juneteenth. Other people just learned about Juneteenth,’ said Charity Dean, director of Detroit´s office of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity, who spoke at an event that drew hundreds of people Friday.
‘We´re here today because this is a black city, and we are excited to be black in this city and to make change.’
Events marking Juneteenth were expected to be held in every major American city on Friday, although some were being held virtually due to the coronavirus.
In Louisiana, community and environmental groups won a court fight to hold a Juneteenth ceremony at a site archaeologists have described as probably a cemetery for enslaved African Americans. The land is now being used to build a $9.4 billion chemical complex.
Philadelphia´s biggest Juneteenth parade and festival was canceled because of the virus outbreak, but several other celebrations popped up, including a gathering of roughly 200 people, mostly black men dressed in black T-shirts, who marched to a park.
People march at the Georgia State Capitol during Juneteenth commemorations in Atlanta
Protesters observe a moment of silence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Friday, June 19, 2020, to mark Juneteenth
Thousands of people gathered at an organized religious rally in downtown Atlanta, where speakers and attendees called for an end to racism.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, city officials and community members celebrated with the unveiling of a block-long, colorful mural that said ‘Black Lives Matter.’
‘We know our lives matter. You don´t have to tell us that. We´re trying to tell the world that,’ said Plum Howlett, a tattoo artist who painted part of the mural.
In Boston, planned events included a rally organized by Black Lives Matter to call for an end to ‘mass incarceration and over-policing’ of communities of color, and a labor union-organized automobile caravan as part of the nationwide Drive to Justice campaign, which seeks changes in policing and other measures.
While the vast majority of demonstrations were peaceful, protesters in Portland – who took to the streets for the 22nd consecutive night Thursday – tore down a statue of George Washington that was erected in the 1920s.
President Donald Trump issued a message for Juneteenth in which he noted ‘the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have attended emancipation.’
‘It is both a remembrance of a blight on our history and a celebration of our nation´s unsurpassed ability to triumph over darkness,’ Trump added.