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California Sues Tesla Over ‘Unbridled Racism’ At Its Factory

After discovering a systemic pattern of maltreatment of Laborers at Tesla’s facility outside San Francisco, California’s civil rights agency sued the electric carmaker for racial harassment and discrimination. The state’s Department of Housing and Fair Employment said that it received several grievances from hundreds of employees and discovered evidence that Tesla’s Fremont plant is a “racially segregated workplace” during a three-year inquiry.

“Segregation at the Fremont facility, along with the lack of Black and/or African Americans in senior posts, has left many accusations of pervasive racism unchecked for years,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Alameda County Superior Court the day before. “Black and/or African American Tesla workforce have complained since 2012 that Tesla production leaders, supervisors, and managers use the n-word and other racial insults to refer to Black labor.”

Even before the complaint was filed, Tesla claimed in a Feb. 8 blog post headlined “The DFEH’s Misguided Lawsuit” that it “would be requesting the court to delay the case & take several other measures to make sure that factual evidence will be heard.”

The agency stated that it attempted to negotiate with Tesla to prevent lawsuits, but that the business declined to participate in mediation.

According to the DFEH, one Black worker reported hearing racial slurs 50 to 100 times per day. Some of them who reported the harsh language claimed that managers and supervisors were either active participants or bystanders to the abuse. According to the lawsuit, Black employees noticed racist graffiti on toilet walls, locker, benches, workspaces, lunch tables, and the break room daily.

Tesla was notified by the DFEH on January 3 said it had premises to initiate a complaint. In its annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 7, Tesla revealed the agency’s inquiry.

Several Complaints & Lawsuits

Tesla employs about 99,000 people worldwide, with over 10,000 working at the Fremont facility. In recent years, former employees at Tesla’s Fremont plant have filed several complaints and lawsuits alleging sexual harassment & racial discrimination. Because Tesla’s full-time workers negotiate contracts requiring workplace conflicts to be resolved in closed-door arbitration, many concerns never make it to court.

According to the DFEH, small offenses were more promptly written up or fired, and promotions were denied to Black workers. According to the complaint, “the stress from severe and pervasive racial harassment, risk of a physical altercation as well as instigation with harassers, the unequal treatment, the disproportionately severe discipline,” and the absurdity of complaining did make the working conditions intolerable for several Black and/or African American workers, causing them to resign.”


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