Tesla Is a ‘Hotbed for Racist Behavior,’ Worker Claims in Suit

Dana Hull, Bloomberg, November 13, 2017

Tesla Inc.’s production floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” an African-American employee claimed in a lawsuit in which he alleged black workers at the electric carmaker suffer severe and pervasive harassment.

The employee says he’s one of more than 100 African-American Tesla workers affected and is seeking permission from a judge to sue on behalf of the group. He’s seeking unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment.

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Tesla has roughly 33,000 employees globally but has never publicly released its diversity statistics. More than 10,000 people work at its sole auto-assembly plant in Fremont, California, where the United Auto Workers have launched a campaign to persuade workers to join the union. On Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk acknowledged that the company recently fired about 700 workers for low performance.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the “N word” around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for “not having a positive attitude.”

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Larry Organ, an attorney at the California Civil Rights Law Group, said that Vaughn reached out to him after the law firm sued Tesla on behalf of other African American employees who complained about racial harassment this year.

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According to Monday’s complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla factory employees on May 31.

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The case is Vaughn v. Tesla Inc., Superior Court of the State of California (County of Alameda)

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