The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the state’s civil rights agency, has filed a lawsuit against Tesla on behalf of thousands of Black employees after a decade of complaints and a 32-month investigation.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court alleges that the N-word and other racist slurs were used against Black workers daily at Tesla’s California plant. The lawsuit alleges that racist behavior was displayed by managers and supervisors as well as employees.
Horrific Allegations Lead to Lawsuit Against Tesla
The lawsuit against Tesla details horrific and demeaning conditions where Black workers were allegedly forced into separate areas referred to by such names as “porch monkey stations,” “the slave ship,” and “the plantation.” The lawsuit states that only Black workers had to scrub floors on their hands and knees and were typically relegated to the Fremont factory’s most demanding physical jobs.
Restroom walls, workplace benches, and lunch tables bore graffiti including “KKK,” “Go back to Africa,” the hangman’s noose, the Confederate flag, and the N-word. Employees also said the company was slow to erase such graffiti. Tesla has denied these allegations saying it is a false narrative spun by the DFEH and “a handful of plaintiff firms” to generate publicity.
The lawsuit against Tesla comes at the heels of CEO Elon Musk moving the company’s headquarters from Palo Alto to Austin, Texas. The state’s case against Tesla suggests this relocation to a state known for lax enforcement is not a coincidence, declaring it to be “another move to avoid accountability,” the LA Times reports.
In addition to such mistreatment and race-based harassment, Black workers at Tesla were also denied promotions and paid less than other workers for doing the same jobs, the lawsuit against Tesla states. According to the complaint, these workers were disciplined for infractions for which other workers didn’t face any consequences.
This is the largest ever lawsuit brought by the state for racial discrimination in terms of the size of the affected workforce since the agency gained prosecutorial powers in 2013. Black workers make up 20% of Tesla’s factory assemblers, but there are no Black executives, and about 3% of professionals at the Fremont plant are Black. Tesla is facing class-action lawsuits over allegations of anti-Black discrimination as well.
Fighting for your Rights
California and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating or harassing employees based on their race, color, gender, age, or disability. California law also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Such discrimination and harassment create a hostile environment in the workplace and prevent employees from doing their jobs properly.
Anyone facing harassment, intimidation, discrimination, or retaliation at the workplace or who has been wrongfully terminated due to race, religion, nationality, color, or sexual orientation, has legal rights. It is essential that these victims contact an experienced California employment lawyer who will fight for their rights and help them secure fair compensation for the injustice and the losses they have suffered.