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10 Feb, 2022 07:01

State agency accuses Tesla of racial segregation in lawsuit

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing claims to have received hundreds of complaints
State agency accuses Tesla of racial segregation in lawsuit

A California employment and housing agency has filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging that the company operates a “racially segregated workplace” where non-white workers are subjected to discrimination.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed the lawsuit in a California court on Wednesday after it allegedly received “hundreds of complaints” from Tesla workers.

After investigating the complaints, DFEH Director Kevin Kish claimed the agency “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.”

Tesla, however, has rejected the allegations, and called the lawsuit “misguided” in a statement of its own.

“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team,” Tesla said on Wednesday, insisting that the company has “always disciplined and terminated” employees who “use racial slurs or harass others.”

At a time when manufacturing jobs are leaving California, the DFEH has decided to sue Tesla instead of constructively working with us. This is both unfair and counterproductive

The company accused the DFEH of spinning a “narrative” beyond “credibility,” and revealed that it would ask the court to “pause the case and take other steps to ensure that facts and evidence will be heard.”

Tesla was ordered by a San Francisco jury to pay former employee Owen Diaz $137 million last year after he claimed colleagues at the company’s factory in Fremont called him the n-word and told him to “go back to Africa.” Tesla has challenged the ruling, pointing out that the “staggering” payment is much higher than the $600,000 which would normally be paid.

“It is an award without precedent in US antidiscrimination law. It dwarfs awards in similar – and even in the most egregious – cases. And it bears no relationship to the actual evidence at trial,” Tesla said at the time.