Last week, after a 32-month investigation, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla, Inc. alleging that “rampant racism [at the Company went] unchecked for years.”
The lawsuit further alleges that:
Segregation at the Fremont factory, along with the absence of Black and/or African Americans in leadership roles, has left many complaints of rampant racism unchecked for years. As early as 2012, Black and/or African American Tesla workers have complained that Tesla production leads, supervisors, and managers constantly use the n-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black workers. They have complained that swastikas, “KKK,” the n-word, and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables, and even factory machinery. They have complained that Black and/or African American workers are assigned to more physically demanding posts and the lowest-level contract roles, paid less, and more often terminated from employment than other workers. They have also complained that Black and/or African American workers are often denied advancement opportunities, and more often and more severely disciplined than non-Black workers. . . A common narrative was Black and/or African American workers being taunted by racial slurs and then baited into verbal and physical confrontations, where they, in turn, were the ones disciplined for being purportedly “aggressive” or “threatening.””
In October 2021, Tesla, according to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit, announced plans “to move its headquarters” outside of California “to avoid accountability.”
In an interview, Kevin Kish, the Director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing stated: ““We hear a lot about ‘structural racism.’ This case is very focused on segregation — the structural barriers to equality for Black employees.”
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act forbids discrimination against a worker in the terms and conditions of their employment because of their race. Terms and conditions means, among other things, the manner in which a company disciplines workers, promotes workers, who it selects for termination, and the compensation it provides to workers. And, the California Supreme Court has held that evidence of discrimination can also be used as evidence of a separate harassment claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
If you believe you have been discriminated and/or harassed against on the basis of your race, please reach out.