Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California is being sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing for continuous discrimination and harassment against Black employees. Tesla calls the lawsuit ‘unfair.’
The lawsuit that was filed this week by the state was made after a three-year-long investigation where the CDFEH got multiple complaints by former employees and obtained evidence that coincided with these claims.
DFEH director, Kevin Kish, stated that:
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.
Here is a more detailed accounts of what allegedly took place. The purpose of including these events is to give these former workers a voice. If you do not wish to read them, please skip to the section: Tesla’s Comment.
Racist Comments, Slurs, and Segregation
According to Electrek, co-workers, leads, managers, and supervisors continuously made racial comments like “from the ghetto,” and “go back to Africa,” and called Black employees racial slurs not limited to the n-word, “hood rats,” and “horsehair.” To add to this, the complaints made to the DFEH claimed that Black workers were not given opportunities to advance in the workplace. This caused the Black workers to get stuck in the same line of work as other Black employees. A lot of the jobs that these employees were given were more physically demanding. These areas were called “the plantation” and “porch monkey station.”
The evidence reported by the DFEH paints the picture of a work environment where employees test the limits to see what they can get away with and eventually get comfortable showing their true thoughts and views. This is evident in the more violent actions that occurred in the Fremont factory. Some of the most notable are employees proudly displaying their confederate flag tattoos in a way that would intimidate minority workers, racist graffiti on the breakroom walls, workstations, and bathrooms. The Verge writes that the defendants claimed that the graffiti was not cleaned up for months on end.
After the lawsuit was filed, Tesla’s blog post not only said that the lawsuit was ‘unfair’ but that the DFEH is actively choosing to not work with Tesla to solve these issues. Tesla also states that the events that the DFEH chose to focus on occurred between 2015 and 2019. They say that the 50 times people complained to the organization during that time, the investigation closed and found that Tesla was not at fault.