Lawsuit: Noose drawing, racist slurs etched into walls at Tesla 

Tesla has denied allegations of racial discrimination and harassment, calling the California DFEH's lawsuit "misguided."

A lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing says it has uncovered a persistent pattern of ongoing racist behavior at Tesla’s Fremont factory. 

As previously reported, the agency is suing the automobile manufacturer for alleged racial discrimination and harassment. 

A 2020 aerial view of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, where the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has uncovered a persistent pattern of ongoing racist behavior. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH 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, creating a hostile work environment,” Kevin Kish, the agency’s director, said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The East Bay Times has reviewed the lawsuit and notes that “As early as 2012, Black and/or African American Tesla workers have complained that Tesla production leads, supervisors and managers constantly use the n-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black workers.” 

“They have complained that swastikas, ‘KKK,’ the n-word, and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables, and even factory machinery,” says its report.

The Jerusalem Post alleges that a noose drawn in a bathroom at the factory remained up for months. 

The DFEH suit also alleges that “Black and/or African American workers are assigned to more physically demanding posts and the lowest-level contract roles, paid less and more often terminated from employment than other workers. They have also complained that Black and/or African American workers are often denied advancement opportunities, and more often and more severely disciplined than non-Black workers.”

“A common narrative was Black and/or African American workers being taunted by racial slurs and then baited into verbal and physical confrontations, where they, in turn, were the ones disciplined for being purportedly ‘aggressive’ or ‘threatening,’” the suit claimed. “These written warnings in their personnel files had consequences for later promotional and professional opportunities.”

Tesla has denied the allegations, its officials writing in a blog post that the DFEH’s lawsuit is “misguided.”

The company says it “strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” adding that management “has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways.”

Regional NAACP President Rick Callender applauded the state’s efforts.

“The Department of Fair Employment and Housing should be applauded,” he said in a statement, “for seeking justice against Tesla for their racist behavior.” 

On Twitter, Callender wrote, ”Racism is rampant at Tesla. @cahinaacp stands behind DFEH & Tesla employees. We demand a racist free workplace. Business & Gov. orgs should know racist behavior is not tolerated in CA. Who thinks they should own a @Tesla now??”

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