A former Tesla Motors employee wants to sue the automaker for creating an “intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment” for black employees.
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.
According to the lawsuit filed with California’s Superior Court, Marcus Vaughn complained in writing to human resources and CEO Elon Musk on April 23 about racial harassment. The lawsuit alleges no one from the company followed up with Vaughn about his complaint, nor did they investigate his claims.
On Oct. 31, Vaughn was fired for “not having a positive attitude.”
Employees routinely using the N-word: suit
Vaughn’s suit claims Tesla employees and supervisors continue to make racist comments and engage in racist behaviour — including routine use of the N-word — and little is done to stem the harassment. He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, to be paid to himself and other employees.
Tesla has 33,000 employees worldwide, and approximately 10,000 of them work at the Fremont, Calif. assembly plant, according to Bloomberg News.
If someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.Elon Musk, Tesla Motors CEO
This is the third lawsuit levelled against Tesla this year for alleged racist incidents in California.
In March, Tesla employee DeWitt Lambert claimed the company did nothing about constant racial harassment and sexually explicit comments made towards him by other workers. He also claimed he was passed over for promotions because he complained to HR, according to Business Insider.
And in October, three former workers said the Tesla factory is a hostile environment for black employees, claiming little was done to stop others from routinely calling them the n-word and making other racially insensitive remarks.
Vaughn’s suit is the largest, since he is seeking to make the claim on behalf of at least 100 African-American workers.
The suit also states Musk sent an email to all employees in May about discrimination and harassment.
“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize.”
“In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”
Auto union filed federal complaint
The California Civil Rights Law Group has worked on all three lawsuits. Lawyer Larry Organ told Bloomberg News that Vaughn reached out to him after the group sued Tesla on behalf of other employees.
Organ said Tesla isn’t doing enough.
“When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce,” he said.
According to Reuters, Tesla is also facing lawsuits alleging discrimination against gay and older workers, which it denies.
The company is also taking heat from the United Auto Workers union, which filed a federal complaint last month claiming Tesla fired factory workers who were trying to unionize.
Earlier on HuffPost:
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Author: Jessica Chin