Tesla Faces Lawsuits and Government Investigations For Racial Discrimination
A group of Black Tesla workers has sued the electric carmaker alleging they were subjected to racial discrimination. The lawsuit is the latest in a long line of allegations that Tesla has faced for enabling a toxic workplace culture in which unlawful behavior is rampant. The carmaker has been accused of turning a blind eye to employees’ complaints of harassment and discrimination.
Fifteen Black current and former employees filed the lawsuit against Tesla in a California state court in June 2022. They claimed Tesla failed to stop racial discrimination at its Fremont factory. Workers regularly endured offensive remarks, racial slurs, and harassment.
The plaintiffs alleged their Tesla colleagues often used racist language like the N-word, “plantation,” or “slavery” when referring to the work environment. They also made sexual comments. Additionally, workstations, lockers, benches, and bathroom walls were covered with racist graffiti. The lawsuit claimed “open and unmitigated race discrimination” was part of Tesla’s standard operations.
Along with coworkers, managers and human resources staff also engaged in harassment. According to the lawsuit, they ignored multiple complaints about the misconduct. Instead of investigating or stopping the unwanted behavior, they retaliated against employees who complained about the discrimination.
One plaintiff claimed she suffered racial and sexual harassment. Her managers took no action when she reported the misconduct. Instead, they targeted her for retaliation. Another plaintiff, who worked as a production associate, was demoted upon returning to work after taking an authorized leave of absence due to COVID-19.
One employee said he was suddenly fired after nine years of employment at Tesla. The alleged wrongful termination occurred in retaliation for complaining about racial discrimination and harassment by a supervisor. Other employees alleged Tesla denied promotions based on race while assigning them the most physically challenging tasks in the factory.
Tesla has long been embroiled in lawsuits and investigations. In 2021, a Black former elevator operator was awarded $15 million in damages in a California lawsuit that accused Tesla of failing to stop racial discrimination. In another case, the electric carmaker paid around $1 million to a worker who suffered a racial slur from his supervisor.
Tesla has also been targeted for multiple investigations. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing brought a lawsuit against the company in February 2022 for “pervasive” racial discrimination and widespread harassment of Black workers. The state agency claimed that Black workers at Tesla’s Fremont factory were discriminated against in pay, promotions, disciplinary action, and job assignments.
Tesla is facing a separate probe by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The employer is trying to negotiate a settlement with the federal agency. If a settlement is not possible, the EEOC may decide to sue the company.
If you have experienced racial discrimination or harassment in the workplace, you do not have to tolerate the unwanted behavior. You may have grounds for legal action against your employer. A skilled San Francisco employment lawyer can help you determine the possibility of pursuing compensation for the wrongdoing you endured.
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