Racial abuse rife at Tesla factories? 15 black ex-employees sue the company

Edited By: Moohita Kaur Garg
California, United States Updated: Jul 01, 2022, 09:38 PM(IST)

In recent months, at least ten lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer, including one from a California civil rights organisation, alleging widespread sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The complainants alleged that the harassment included the use of terms "nigger," "slavery," or "plantation," as well as sexual remarks

On Thursday, fifteen Black former or present Tesla employees filed a complaint against the electric vehicle manufacturer. They allege that they were the targets of racist abuse and harassment in the company's factories. According to the lawsuit filed in a California state court, the workers said they were frequently the target of inappropriate, racist remarks and actions by coworkers, managers, and human resources personnel. Reuters reports that the lawsuit added that the automaker's "standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination," and that the harassment mostly took place at Tesla's Fremont, California factory. The complainants alleged that the harassment included the use of the terms "nigger," "slavery," or "plantation," as well as sexual remarks.

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According to the lawsuit, some of the plaintiffs were even denied promotions or given jobs that required the most physical labour at Tesla. 

In recent months, at least ten lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer, including one from a California civil rights organisation, alleging widespread sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

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A Tesla shareholder has also filed a lawsuit this month, accusing Elon Musk, the company's CEO, and the board of directors of promoting a poisonous workplace atmosphere and ignoring employee complaints.

In one of the more public cases involving Tesla, a Black factory worker had accused Tesla of racial discrimination. Former elevator operator Owen Diaz claimed in his 2017 complaint that he was subjected to a hostile work environment at Tesla's Fremont, California, assembly facility, which includes racist slurs, caricatures, and swastikas.

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A jury last October awarded Diaz $137 million. However, a federal judge ruled in April that Tesla was liable to Diaz for discrimination, but the judge reduced the award to $15 million because he felt that the $137 million was excessive. Diaz's rejected this settlement, due to which a federal judge in California also ordered a new trial on Monday on the damages Tesla owes him.

Despite allegations of workplace misconduct, Tesla claims that it has measures in place to deal with it and denies that any wrongdoing has taken place.

(With inputs from agencies)

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