Tesla accused of racial segregation at factory
White workers at the factory were regularly given preferential treatment, such as simpler employment conditions and more leniency in disciplinary hearings than their Black counterparts.
A California agency filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against automobile manufacturer Tesla on Wednesday, accusing the electric carmaker of racial segregation at its California factory.
"We found evidence that Tesla's Fremont facility is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, punishment, compensation, and promotion," said Kevin Kish, head of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
According to the complaint, black workers at the factory were often subjected to profoundly offensive racial slurs and racist jokes from coworkers and superiors. Hundreds of complaints were received by the agency, according to Kish, from personnel at the plant.
"The facts on this case speak for themselves," he said.
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Tesla stated on Tuesday before the filing, stating that it "opposes all types of discrimination and harassment" and that it is committed to providing "a workplace that is safe, courteous, fair, and inclusive."
However, extracts from the agency's case, which was unsealed late Wednesday and filed in a California court, present a completely different picture.
Non-Black personnel, according to the agency, would frequently refer to regions where a large number of Black or African-American workers were stationed with racist historical terms, such as "the plantation."
Workers would frequently be "taunted by racial slurs and then provoked into verbal and physical confrontations" by non-Black workers, according to the lawsuit, and would then face disciplinary action.
Black workers were "confronted with racist writing at Tesla on "a daily basis," including graffiti featuring "swastikas, the Confederate flag, a white supremacist skull," and "KKK" according to the report.
Furthermore, non-Black personnel at the institution were often given preferential treatment, such as easier tasks and leniency in disciplinary hearings, compared to their Black counterparts.
The DFEH stated that workers with racially inflammatory tattoos of the Confederate flag would make them visible to terrify Black coworkers. "These racial slurs were shouted 50-100 times a day," one worker said.
Several discrimination complaints have been made against the company, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, in recent months, alleging discrimination at the California factory.
In December, six women filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging a culture of sexual harassment at the facility and elsewhere. Two more cases were filed less than a month before the complaints were filed.