In February, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. The allegations were stark. According to the lawsuit, Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant is a racially hostile workplace and even a racially segregated one.
The lawsuit claimed that hundreds of African American workers had complained that they have to put up with racial slurs, including the N-word, on a daily basis, and that management had taken no steps to address this. Furthermore, the DEFH said that Black workers at the plant face discrimination in job assignments to the point where the plant is essentially segregated by race. There is also alleged discrimination in pay, discipline and promotions. All in all, it is a racially hostile work environment.
Now, the workers are beginning to file their own lawsuits. Tesla is currently being sued in at least 10 lawsuits that claim widespread civil rights violations, including race discrimination and sexual harassment. The company has denied all wrongdoing.
Is the Fremont factory an openly racist environment?
The latest lawsuit was brought by 15 current or former Tesla employees who are all Black and most of whom worked at the Fremont plant. They claim that colleagues, managers and even human resources employees routinely make offensive racial comments. These include the N-word, “slavery” and “plantation,” along with sexist comments such as “likes booty.” They claim that open, unmitigated race discrimination is Tesla’s standard operating procedure.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs argue that some of them were consigned to the most physically demanding jobs at the factory and/or were passed over for promotion because of their race. One of the plaintiffs says he was demoted for taking an authorized COVID-19 leave, as well.
California and federal law both prohibit all forms of discrimination based on race, gender or a variety of other characteristics. Racial harassment is considered illegal if it is severe and pervasive. If these plaintiffs are telling the truth, the Fremont Tesla plant would seem to qualify.
Affected workers should consider their legal options
Whether you work at Tesla or another company in California, you have the right to a workplace that is free from discrimination and harassment. However, it can be hard to know what to do about it. Talking with an experienced attorney can help you understand the strength of your claim and help prevent retaliation.
Leigh Law Group represents employees in discrimination cases throughout California.