Black employees at Tesla factory in California have alleged facing continued racism and even having to put up with derogatory comments
More than 240 employees of the Tesla factory in California have accused the carmaker of rampant racial discrimination. The complainants have even alleged having to face racial slurs by their colleagues. In fact, some of them even remarked that the production facility was nothing more than a slave ship.
Last week, these complainants testified at the Alameda County Superior Court. The aggrieved mostly comprised of contractors and workers from the production floor of the Fremont-based facility situated off San Francisco. Most of the workers who have alleged racial discrimination have been associated with the electric car manufacturer since 2016. Meanwhile, the lawyers working on the case feel that over 6,000 employees could become involved in the class. The testimonies by the workers are for a 2017 lawsuit that was filed by one Marcus Vaughn.
Prior to suing the carmaker, he had sent a complaint to the HR department and even to CEO Elon Musk. He had written about how he had to face racial slurs by co-workers as well as the supervisors on a frequent basis. However, instead of launching an investigation, the carmaker had fired Marcus for “not having a positive attitude.” It’s important to note here that Marcus’ isn’t the only lawsuit that alleges rampant racism and harassment at Tesla.
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Elon Musk: Be thick-skinned about racial harassment
In 2022, the Tesla was sued as per the California Code Of Regulations for its poor approach towards dealing with racial discrimination among factory workers. The court had reprimanded the carmaker for turning a ‘blind eye’ to the racial abuses. The case even mentioned how CEO Elon Musk told his workers to stay ‘thick-skinned’ about discrimination. In another case, a federal court awarded a former Tesla employee a compensation of USD 3.2 million towards the harassment he suffered.
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Tesla Allowed Such Harassment – Lawyer
Bryan Schwarts, Marcus’ lawyer, has remarked that his client’s case dragged on for many years simply because Tesla tried to have the lawsuit turned into arbitration. It was only in April that the California Supreme Court finally intervened and let Black workers apply for a public injunction. The lawyer is now hopeful that this would push the carmaker to make the necessary amends to its work environment.
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“To have this scope of egregious harassment right here in Silicon Valley, it’s disgusting. Tesla has allowed this kind of pervasive harassment to go on as long as it has.” Schwartz said. Meanwhile, Musk or the spokesperson for Tesla are yet to respond to any of the latest allegations. All the declarants have alleged hearing racial slurs in the factory premises on a regular basis. At least half of the declarants have mentioned the heard supervisors and managers using derogatory words. They have even said that they saw black workers being assigned more laborious jobs and even getting disciplined more frequently.
Albert Blakes, a production associate, mentioned in his statement that he found it difficult to go to work as he would face frequent racist slurs and repeated talks of slavery and even offensive graffiti during the work hours. He even mentioned complaining to the HR department in 2021 but not hearing back from them. “Something needs to be done to hold Tesla accountable for the racism that takes place at the Fremont factory to set an example that this racism is not tolerated in workplaces in California,” he said.
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