Tesla Facing Lawsuit From 6,000 Black Factory Workers Alleging Racism

Tesla Facing Lawsuit From 6,000 Black Factory Workers Alleging Racism

A state judge in California has tentatively ruled that nearly 6,000 Black Tesla factory workers can sue the automaker as a group. They allege the Austin, Texas-based EV maker failed to address rampant racism, discrimination and harassment at its plant in Fremont, California.

California Superior Court Judge Noel Wise in Oakland said that the lawsuit presents questions common to all Black workers at the Fremont plant of whether Tesla was aware of the alleged racism, and it refused to take steps to prevent it, according to Reuters. The named plaintiff, Marcus Vaugh – a former assembly line worker – first sued the automaker in 2017. He alleged that Black factory workers had to deal with a slew of racist conduct including “slurs, graffiti and nooses hung at their workstations.”

Unsurprisingly, Tesla has maintained that it doesn’t tolerate workplace harassment, and it fired employees who were found to be doing racist acts.

Here’s more on the situation, from Reuters:

The tentative ruling comes ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday where Tesla can contest Wise’s decision, though judges are typically unlikely to change their minds.


Wise said she planned to hold a trial in the case beginning in October, when she also will preside over a trial in a case involving similar claims against Tesla by a California state civil rights agency.

Tesla is also facing race bias claims in federal court in California brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. Tesla has moved to dismiss that case or alternatively to pause it, claiming the other lawsuits should be resolved first.

The company, meanwhile, is appealing a $US3.2 million jury verdict awarded to a Black former elevator operator at the Fremont plant in a separate racial harassment lawsuit. The worker, Owen Diaz, had won a $US137 million jury verdict after an initial 2021 trial, but a judge ordered a second trial after ruling the award was excessive.

The decision from Judge Wise represents a really big blow to Tesla because it opens up the automaker to a potential multimillion-dollar judgment. The class includes people who identify as Black and worked at the Fremont factory going back to November 2016.

Now, a multimillion-dollar judgment isn’t exactly going to make or break a company with a $US633 billion market cap, but it’s not good.

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