California agency sues Tesla, alleging racial discrimination, harassment
A California state regulatory agency has filed a complaint against electric automaker Tesla over alleged racial discrimination and harassment.
The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed its complaint on Wednesday in state court, The Wall Street Journal reported, specifically focusing on alleged workplace problems taking place at the company’s principal Fremont factory.
“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, director of the agency, said in a statement.
In a blog post earlier this week, Tesla preemptively responded to the agency’s plans of filing a lawsuit.
“Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways,” it said. “We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously.”
“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,” it added.
This is not the first time Tesla has faced legal issues over alleged racial discrimination at its Fremont factory. Former employee Owen Diaz, who is Black, sued the company in 2017 alleging that he and his son were subjected to “severe and pervasive racial harassment” while working there between 2015 and 2016.
Diaz alleged that employees drew swastikas and other racial epithets in the bathroom stalls and that racial slurs were also present at the workplace. According to him, supervisors either did nothing or participated in the racial harassment.
In October, a federal jury ordered Tesla to pay Diaz nearly $137 million in damages. Tesla has since challenged this verdict.