February 7, 2022

Another Black Person Is Suing Tesla – Alleging Abuse ‘Reminiscent Of The Jim Crow Era’

Former Tesla factory worker Kaylen Barker filed a lawsuit against the company on Tuesday alleging that she suffered racist abuse and a physical assault from a coworker. In the lawsuit seen by Business Insider – she reportedly says that Tesla failed to address the abuse and retaliated against her after she reported it.

“I was violated physically, mentally, and emotionally because I am an African American lesbian,” Barker said in a statement provided to Insider via her attorney.

The suit against Tesla and staffing company Staffmark alleges that in September after Barker asked the offending employee to step back from some machinery for safety reasons, the accused called Barker the N-word and threw a hot grinding tool at her. She said that the tool hit her in the thigh.

Barker says she then reported the incident to HR and the employee was fired but the suit claims Tesla then rehired the offending employee two weeks later. 

According to the Business Insider, the suit also says HR informed Barker shortly after the incident that she was under investigation.

She claims she was then called into HR on a near-daily basis and was demanded to sign documents claiming she was “insubordinate.” Subsequently, she was repeatedly sent home for the afternoon — therefore losing out on money — until she was ultimately fired from the company on October 29 of last year.

“Being a Black worker at a [sic] Tesla’s renowned California factory is to be forced to step back in time and suffer painful abuses reminiscent of the Jim Crow era,” the lawsuit states.

Barker’s attorney is said to be the same attorney who represented ex-Tesla employee Owen Diaz, an elevator operator in Fremont, CA, who also sued the company for racial discrimination — and won.

A jury ordered Tesla to pay nearly $137 million in damages to Diaz after it was found to have ignored his racist abuse claims while working at its California factory.

Diaz, first hired through a recruitment agency, worked as a freight elevator operator between June 2015 and July 2016 at the manufacturer’s Fremont plant in the San Francisco Bay area.

And according to documents, during his tenure, he suffered racist slurs, including the “n-word” and a hostile work environment.

“Tesla’s progressive image was a facade hiding the retrograde and demeaning treatment of its African-American employees,” according to the complaint.

Tesla and Staffmark have been contacted by POCIT for a statement.

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Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.