Black workers at the main Tesla plant in Fremont, California have routinely been subjected to racist slurs and graffiti, including swastikas and nooses, according to a new lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Tesla faces several other race discrimination lawsuits that make similar claims, including a class action by workers at the Fremont plant and a lawsuit by a California civil rights agency. The lawsuit by the civil rights agency adds federal charges to the discrimination claims.
After finding last year that there was "reasonable cause" to believe Tesla had violated the federal law banning workplace race discrimination, the agency tried and failed to enter into a settlement agreement with the company, according to the lawsuit.
Combating widespread workplace harassment is a key priority for the EEOC.
The lawsuit claims that Tesla violated federal law by “tolerating widespread and ongoing racial harassment of its Black employees and by subjecting some of these workers to retaliation for opposing the harassment,” according to a statement released by the EEOC on Thursday. “The Commission also alleges that Defendant unlawfully retaliated against Black employees who opposed actions they perceived to constitute unlawful employment discrimination.”
The lawsuit further alleges that various racial slurs were used against Black employees routinely and casually, often in high-traffic areas.
The EEOC’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for an unspecified number of Black workers, along with an order requiring Tesla to overhaul its policies prohibiting discrimination and retaliation.
The suit was brought by the EEOC’s San Francisco District Office, which has jurisdiction over Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. The San Francisco District has offices in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.
About the writer: Matthew Woodruff is an Independent Journalist and Author who believes in Freely Accessible, Honest and Open Reporting.