New suit

Date:

California State

Ugly race bias in the workplace at Tesla

Tom D’Agostino | Contributed

The state of California, through its Department of Fair Employment and Housing, has filed a bombshell race bias lawsuit.

The new suit accuses Tesla of subjecting employees at its Fremont plant to discrimination and ugly harassment based on race.

Tesla is “a company that profits from an army of production workers, many of whom are people of color, working under egregious conditions,” the suit says.

Suit Alleges Segregation

According to the suit, Tesla segregates “Black and/or African American” workers and places them at the lowest levels.

It alleges that while those workers make up about 20% of “factory operatives” – such as engine and machine assemblers – there are no Black executives.

And only 3% of the professional positions at the plant consist of Black workers, it adds.

Apart from the allegations of severe underrepresentation in key roles, the complaint levies a barrage of stark allegations of racist behavior.

The company assigns Black workers to more physically demanding job posts, it asserts.

Tesla denies them advancement opportunities and disciplines them more severely than non-Black workers, it adds.

Supervisors and managers “constantly” use the N-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black employees, the suit alleges. And it says that restroom walls and stalls, lunch tables and factory machinery have been defaced with swastikas, “KKK” and other racist graffiti.

Going on for Years, Suit Says

Others constantly baited Black workers into verbal and physical confrontations, the department says.

For nearly 10 years, the suit asserts, Black workers have presented complaints about the treatment but to no avail.

The company violated California law because it did not take sufficient remedial measures in response to complaints of discrimination and harassment, the suit alleges.

It also says higher-ups discouraged Black workers from complaining. And Tesla paid them less than non-Black employees, it says.

Mediation Didn’t Work

Before the suit was filed, the department required Tesla to participate in a dispute resolution proceeding. They were unable to resolve the case using that route.

The suit alleges racial discrimination, retaliation and constructive discharge. For good measure, it accuses Tesla of committing recordkeeping violations.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages and other relief.

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