The electric-car company is no stranger to lawsuits, whether it’s about the safety issues or Elon Musk triggering sales through his tweets, but this one might be its biggest hit yet. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has filed a lawsuit against Tesla on grounds of systemic racial discrimination and segregation at its California factory.
Kevin Kish, who is a director at DFEH, said in the statement sent over email that they have found, “evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment.”
Kish mentioned “receiving hundreds of complaints from workers” that led to the investigation at Tesla’s California branch. The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, February 9 at the Alameda County Superior Court.
UPDATE: A California lawsuit accusing Tesla of systemic racial discrimination alleges Black workers were "taunted by racial slurs and then baited into verbal and physical confrontations, where they, in turn, were the ones disciplined" https://t.co/83pVld7mNv— Axios (@axios) February 10, 2022
Axios reports, according to the copy of the lawsuit filed provided to them, the environment at the California Tesla facility was so hostile for Black workers they were not only subjected to verbal racial abuse from non-black employees but the “leads, supervisors, and managers were active participants and/or witnesses to these racist comments.”
Tesla, meanwhile released a statement on the matter titled, “The DFEH’s Misguided Lawsuit”, claiming, “This follows a three-year investigation during which the DFEH—whose mission is supposedly to protect workers—has never once raised any concern about current workplace practices at Tesla.”
CA Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing found "evidence that #Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion"https://t.co/Z0qZhGQsoI— Bruce Mirken (@BruceMirken) February 10, 2022
“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team whose work is shown in this public report. Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways” the statement reads, hard to combat with words against hundreds of witnesses filing their complaints.
Last year Tesla lost ground in a case when the jury asked the company to pay $137 million to the plaintiff as damages for a very similar issue. Owen Diaz, an elevator operator at the same Fremont, California factory between 2015-2016 sued the company for ignoring his complaints regarding racial abuse he faced while working there. Diaz commented after winning the lawsuit last year saying, “It took four long years to get to this point. It’s like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders.”
Almost word-for-word the complaints included by Diaz in his lawsuit are part of the current lawsuit filed by DFEH, only it’s worse because it claims the supervisors and managers were also actively involved in it.
The lawsuit states black employees at Tesla’s Fremont factory were “confronted with racist writing a daily basis, including graffiti featuring swastikas, the Confederate flag, a white supremacist skull, and KKK on restroom walls, restroom stalls, lockers, workplace benches, workstations, lunch tables, and the break room.”
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