September 29, 2023

Federal Agency Sues Tesla For Racism And Retaliation Against Black Workers

Tesla Lawsuit

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against electric car maker Telsa for tolerating widespread and racial harassment of Black employees.

Widespread Racism and Retaliation

The lawsuit claims that Tesla violated federal law by tolerating widespread and ongoing racial harassment of its Black employees and subjecting some workers to retaliation for opposing the harassment.

According to the suit, from at least 2015 to the present, Black employees at Telsa’s Fremont, California manufacturing facilities have routinely endured racial abuse, stereotyping, and hostility.

They have also been subjected to racist terms such as variations of the n-word, “monkey,” “boy,” and “black b*tch.”

Black employees were also victims of graffiti on their desks, equipment, bathroom stalls and within elevators, with variations of the n-word again, threats, and nooses.

This behavior happened casually and openly in high-traffic areas and workers’ hubs.

One Black worker said in the lawsuit, “I saw KKK epithets, a swastika, and the N-word all over the bathroom.” 

“It was so gross and racist I don’t want to discuss it. It would say, “kill Black people””.

In addition, the EEOC’s investigation found that when the victims of this behavior raised objections to the racial hostility they were subjected to, they faced forms of retaliation, including terminations and transfers.

The EEOC investigated Tesla after EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows filed a commissioner’s charge alleging that Tesla violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Act prohibits racial harassment and calls on employers to correct unlawful practices based on race and to provide appropriate relief to aggrieved individuals.

“Unfortunately, as the lawsuits EEOC has filed this fiscal year show, racial harassment remains a persistent problem in employment,” said Burrows.

“Every employee deserves to have their civil rights respected, and no worker should endure the kind of shameful racial bigotry our investigation revealed.”

Not The First Racism Lawsuit For Telsa 

Earlier this year, Marcus Vaughn, a Black former assembly line staffer,sought to add almost 240 other workers to his 2017 lawsuit against Tesla for its racist behaviour.

Owen Diaz won $137 million in his racial bias lawsuit against Tesla in 2021. But this was later reduced to $15 million, and then just $3.2 million.

In 2022, Telsa faced at least ten lawsuits from workers alleging the workplace embraced a culture that encouraged racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

Marc Cage alleged that “virtually every restroom in Tesla’s Fremont facility contained writings or carvings of racist symbols or slurs, including swastikas and prominent displays of the n-word.”

Kaylen Barker filed a lawsuit accusing Tesla of “festering” racism “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era” by ignoring racial and homophobic slurs and physical harm..

Karen Draper, a Black former human resources manager, filed a suit alleging she refused to illegally terminate a Latina worker targeted by a white manager.

The California Civil Rights Department’s lawsuit accused the company of racially segregating Black workers. Tesla countersued but was unsuccessful.

More recently,Marcus Vaughn, a Black former assembly line staffer, at Tesla sought to add almost 240 other workers to his 2017 lawsuit against Tesla again for its racist behaviour.

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Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.