Elon Musk’s Tesla has been sued by a California state civil rights agency over allegations that the company is operating a “racially segregated workplace.” The director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said: “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.”
The Verge reports that Elon Musk’s Tesla has been sued by a California state civil rights agency that alleges the company is operating a “racially segregated workplace.” Breitbart News reported on the possibility of the lawsuit earlier this week and Tesla’s subsequent reaction.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed the lawsuit on Wednesday. DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement: “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.”
The DFEH alleges that a wide range of discriminatory behavior and language was used at the company’s Fremont factory. Defendants allege that they regularly hear workers, managers, and supervisors using racial slurs such as the n-word, “monkey toes,” and “hood rat.”
Employees reportedly referred to areas of the factory where many Black employees worked as the “porch monkey station,” and defendants allege that managers and supervisors at the company were either “active participants and/or witnesses to these racist comments.”
It was also alleged that racist graffiti was left in break rooms, restrooms, and workstations. The graffiti included phrases like “all monkeys work outside,” “fuck [n-words]” and “hang [n-words]” next to a drawing of a noose. The defendants claim these messages were “left up for months.”
The DFEH also claims that Black employees were given the most physically demanding jobs and told they were “better suited” to the work. Black workers allege that they were also more frequently penalized for workplace infractions than non-Black colleagues.
Tesla was quick to deny the charges before the lawsuit had even been filed, saying in a statement:
Once the DFEH files its lawsuit, Tesla will be asking the court to pause the case and take other steps to ensure that facts and evidence will be heard. 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.
Tesla was previously sued for racial harassment and discrimination at its Fremont facility and in October last year, a judge awarded a black former employee $137 million in damages. The former employee alleged that he heard “daily racist epithets” including the n-word and was told to “go back to Africa” by fellow workers.
Read more at the Verge here.