Tesla Faces New Racial Abuse Scandal

Industry News / 19 Comments

A new case suggests that its segregation accusations are not over yet.

It looks like the Tesla Model 3 and family plant is back in the news for racial discrimination yet again. Last year, the company was ordered to pay a former employee $137 million in damages for a hostile work environment that included a barrage of racial slurs. It looks like since then, not much has changed as news has surfaced that hundreds of complaints have been submitted for this same use at the company's Fremont factory. A contrast to Stellantis's confirmation that it would be investing in black businesses.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has confirmed that some workers have complained that the facility has been operating as a racially segregated workplace resulting in a toxic environment. Tesla has issued an official response by calling the lawsuit misguided and says that it "strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment." Furthermore, it has requested that the court pauses the case.

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2017-2022 Tesla Model 3 Front View Driving
2017-2022 Tesla Model 3 Forward Vision

DFEH director Kevin Kish says his division "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," and claims that Black or African-American work areas were referred to as "the plantation."

The lawsuit which was filed by the DFEH alleges that one worker was the recipient of racial slurs as much as 50-100 times a day. Tesla responded to this by declaring the agency has been approached by employees for racial abuse on 50 occasions in the last five years. The response declared that "On every single occasion when the DFEH closed an investigation, it did not find misconduct against Tesla."

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The release adds, "It, therefore, strains credibility for the agency to now allege, after a three-year investigation, that systematic racial discrimination and harassment somehow existed at Tesla." It also points out that these allegations are referring to the 2015-2019 allegations that have already been settled.

Of course, violent situations in factories are not exclusive to Tesla. Just a few years ago, Ford had to issue an apology for a series of horrific sexual harassment cases that took place at its Chicago plants.

Tesla goes on to defend itself by ending, "To date, despite repeated requests, the DFEH has declined to provide Tesla with the specific allegations or the factual bases for its lawsuit. Attacking a company like Tesla that has done so much good for California should not be the overriding aim of a state agency with prosecutorial authority. The interests of workers and fundamental fairness must come first."

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