US automaker Tesla Inc on Monday was hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming its California production plant is a ‘hotbed for racist behavior.’
The lawsuit filed in California state court in Oakland is at least the third filed this year by black workers who say they were addressed using racial slurs and that the company ignored their complaints.
But Monday’s lawsuit, filed by former Tesla employee Marcus Vaughn, is the first to bring those claims on behalf of a large class of black workers at the automaker’s Fremont, California factory.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
The company is also facing lawsuits accusing it of discrimination against gay and older workers.
It has denied those claims.
US automaker Tesla Inc on Monday was hit with a class-action lawsuit claiming its California production plant is a ‘hotbed for racist behavior.’ The Tesla plant in Fremont, California, is seen in the above stock image
Vaughn in the lawsuit says he was routinely called the ‘n-word’ by supervisors and coworkers after he began working at the factory in April.
He says he complained in writing to human resources officials, but the company never investigated his claims.
Vaughn says he was fired in October for ‘not having a positive attitude.’
He is seeking unspecified damages under a California anti-discrimination law.
‘Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination,’ Vaughn’s lawsuit read.
Last month, three African-American contract workers sued Tesla alleging that it permitted racial harassment and discrimination, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Demetric Di-az, his father, Owen Diaz, and Lamar Patterson, who also worked in the Fremont plant, alleged in the lawsuit that they were targets of ‘racially motivated abuse, including the frequent use of racial slurs.’
The lawsuit alleges that the former Tesla employees were told by supervisors and co-workers: ‘Go back to Africa. We don’t want you here.’
The plaintiffs also allege that supervisors and employees left racist images and caricatures around the plant for the black employees to see.
The lawsuit filed in California state court in Oakland is at least the third filed this year by black workers who say they were addressed using racial slurs and that the company ignored their complaints. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seen in the above August 2017 file photo
When they complained to management about the alleged abuse, nothing was done, according to the lawsuit.
Tesla responded to the lawsuit by saying that it takes ‘any and every form of discrimination or harassment extremely seriously.’
‘In situations where Tesla is at fault, we will never seek to avoid responsibility,’ the spokesperson said.
‘But in this instance, from what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case.’
The Fremont plant employs 10,000 workers, which is almost one-third of Tesla’s entire workforce, according to NBC News.
The factory houses three product lines: the Model S battery-sedan, the Model X battery-SUV, and the new Model 3.
The growing number of discrimination lawsuits against Tesla come as the company is also facing a unionization campaign from the United Auto Workers.
In February, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk told the website Gizmodo that an employee who wrote a blog post criticizing the company was ‘paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union.’
The union and the worker denied that he had been paid by UAW.
Last month, the union filed a complaint with a federal labor board on behalf of scores of workers who it says were laid off because they support the union.
The company denied the claims and said the decision was based on employee performance reviews.