Tesla is 'Hotbed for Racist Behavior,' Lawsuit Says

A former Tesla employee is accusing Tesla of racial discrimination at its Fremont California factory.                  James Martin  CNET

Tesla Factory in Fremont, California.

The lawsuit is the 3rd filed this year against Tesla alleging racial discrimination at its Fremont, California, factory.

"The law doesn't require you to have a thick skin", said Larry Organ, an attorney at the California Civil Rights Law Group, who was contacted by Vaughn after the law firm sued Tesla on behalf of other African-American employees who complained about racial harassment.

The class-action lawsuit against the Delaware-based company claims Tesla routinely failed to prevent racial harassment, as well as take corrective steps once that harassment occurred, at its California assembly plant.

A new lawsuit alleges Tesla's factory floor is a "hotbed for racist behavior".

Tesla is yet to comment on Vaughn's lawsuit.

Vaughn stated that although the company is considered an innovative company and the pioneer of the electric vehicle revolution, its standard operating procedure "is pre-Civil rights era race discrimination".

In the suit, former assembly worker Marcus Vaughn, who said he was sacked from the electric vehicle maker for "not having a positive attitude", claims supervisors and co-workers called him the n-word, but his written report to human resources about it drew no investigation. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for "not having a positive attitude". It is the first such suit to seek class-action status. The lawsuit alleges no one from the company followed up with Vaughn about his complaint, nor did they investigate his claims.

In addition to the growing number of lawsuits the company is facing, a unionization campaign by United Auto Workers is underway. On Tesla's most recent earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk acknowledged that the company recently fired about 700 workers for low performance. In March, another black employee filed a lawsuit stating that he was sexually harassed, racially discriminated and harassed at the Fremont facility.

The suit references an e-mail that CEO Elon Musk allegedly sent to Fremont factory workers addressing complaints of a toxic culture.

"Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group", Musk wrote in the emailed memo, according to the lawsuit. "In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology". "Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize". Tesla has categorically denied these allegations.



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