Tesla Sued For Race Discrimination By US Civil Rights Agency
Tesla Inc. was sued by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleges it created a hostile work environment for racial minorities at its California factory.
The agency, formed to protect civil rights in the workplace, said in a lawsuit filed Thursday the electric-vehicle maker subjected Black workers “to severe or pervasive racial harassment.” It also alleged Tesla unfairly retaliated against workers who complained.
Civil Rights Agency Sues Tesla for Discrimination
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Austin-based Tesla first revealed that it faced an investigation by the EEOC in an April 2022 regulatory filing. The agency’s probe of the EV maker predates a separate lawsuit by California’s civil rights agency, accusing the company of ignoring “rampant racism” against Black workers at its factory in Fremont, California, and other facilities throughout the state.
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In Thursday’s suit, the EEOC claimed Tesla’s mistreatment of Black workers at the Fremont facility started as early as 2015. The agency said non-Black employees repeatedly used racial slurs and made monkey noises, while managers at times “addressed Black employees individually and collectively as N-Words.” Additionally, workers also encountered racist graffiti, including nooses and swastikas, on desks, elevators and vehicles rolling off the production line.
Tesla and the EEOC engaged in “mandatory mediation” in June 2023, but didn’t resolve the issues.
The agency is urging the court to block Tesla from subjecting Black workers to racism and retaliation and fostering a hostile environment. It’s also seeking damages to compensate workers for emotional distress and loss of livelihood through back pay or allowing them to return to their jobs.
The EEOC filed the suit in Oakland, California, federal court.
The California civil rights agency also claimed that Tesla turned a blind eye to years of complaints about racial slurs at the same plant, where the electric automaker produces the Model S, X, 3 and Y. Tesla has contended in court that the state exceeded its legal authority and “uses litigation as a bullying tactic and to advance its turf war” with the EEOC. The California case, filed last year, is pending in state court.