Tesla has again found itself facing a lawsuit alleging racism. This time though, the company is being sued by the state of California over allegations it discriminated against black employees and operated a “racially segregated workplace” within its Fremont, California factory, according to The Verge.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) said it filed the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday, but the suit hasn’t yet been made public.
Tesla was quick to call the lawsuit “misguided.”
Warning: the following contains racist language and slurs from the DFEH lawsuit.
The suit alleges that Tesla managers, workers and supervisors in the Fremont factory used racial slurs including the N-word, “monkey toes,” “porch monkey” and “hood rat.”
Black employees also allegedly saw racist graffiti throughout the factory, including phrases like “all monkeys work outside,” “fuck [N-words]” and “hang [N-words]” next to a drawing of a noose, The Verge reports.
The suit claims managers at the automaker either participated in or overlooked the racial abuse and gave black workers more gruelling work while passing them over for promotions.
In a statement, DFEH chief Kevin Kish said the suit was based on complaints from hundreds of Tesla workers.
“[We] 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 said.
In a blog post published February 9th, Tesla called the suit “misguided.”
“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” the company said.
It noted that the alleged misconduct occurred from 2015 to 2019.
“Tesla is also the last remaining automobile manufacturer in California,” the company added. “Yet, at a time when manufacturing jobs are leaving California, the DFEH has decided to sue Tesla instead of constructively working with us. This is both unfair and counterproductive, especially because the allegations focus on events from years ago.”
News of this suit comes just months after Tesla was ordered to pay $US137 ($190) million in damages to a black former contractor who said he suffered racist abuses at the Fremont factory from 2015 to 2016. This lawsuit also included allegations of racist graffiti and the use of the N-word.
Tesla is also being sued by a black, gay worker who claimed “festering” racism and other attacks at the company’s Lathrop sub-assembly plant.
Another chapter in this long story of racism within Tesla’s facilities is a 2017 letter CEO Elon Musk sent an email to employees that, in essence, told people to deal with the racism they encounter.
“Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologise,” Musk wrote. “In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”
There’s no way of knowing what will eventually come out of this latest complaint. Hopefully it will be the last instance of Tesla management undermining their employees with racist, homophobic, sexist and all around terrible rhetoric.
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