California Agency Sues Tesla for Alleged Racial Discrimination and Harassment

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleges that Tesla workers were subjected to racial slurs and graffiti.

Tesla, Inc., the popular vehicle manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for alleged racial discrimination and harassment at the California-based electric vehicle company. The lawsuit is aimed towards workplace problems at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, the company’s main car plant in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Just last week, Tesla was sued by a Black former employee who alleged that the company did nothing as she faced racism and physical violence while on the job.

According to the Wall Street Journal, DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement, “After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH 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.”

In response to the lawsuit, Tesla released a blog post that disputes the allegations made:

Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team whose work is shown in this public report. Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously. Above all, Tesla continues to seek to provide a workplace that is safe, respectful, fair, and inclusive­—all of which are vital to achieving our mission.

Tesla is also the last remaining automobile manufacturer in California. The Fremont factory has a majority-minority workforce and provides the best paying jobs in the automotive industry to over 30,000 Californians.

Source: Wall Street Journal

In the blog post, Tesla says the lawsuit focuses on alleged misconduct by production assistants that happened between 2015 and 2019.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the DFEH said Black workers often heard supervisors and managers using racial slurs and saw racist graffiti in the Fremont factory. One worker is claiming that he heard racial slurs 50 to 100 times a day.

More from the Wall Street Journal:

Black workers also reported being assigned to more physically demanding roles, being subjected to more severe discipline and being passed over for professional opportunities, the agency said. Black workers were severely underrepresented in managerial and other professional roles, the agency said. Tesla said in a 2020 diversity report that Black employees made up 10% of its U.S. workforce and 4% of people in leadership roles.