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Tesla hit by new lawsuit alleging racial abuse against Black workers

Stock Markets Jul 01, 2022 02:01PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo 2/2

By Hyunjoo Jin

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Fifteen Black former or current employees at Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) filed a lawsuit against the electric car maker on Thursday, alleging they were subjected to racial abuse and harassment at its factories.

The workers said they were subjected to offensive racist comments and behavior by colleagues, managers and human resources employees on a regular basis, according to the lawsuit filed in a California state court.

The harassment, which occurred mostly at Tesla's Fremont, California, factory, included using the n-word and such terms as "slavery" or "plantation" or making sexual comments such as "likes booty," the lawsuit said, adding that the automaker's "standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination."

The filing described one plaintiff, Teri Mitchell, as being regularly harassed by co-workers and managers who used racial slurs and made statements including, "It is rare for Blacks to work here. I don't know how long you will be able to stay here."

Another plaintiff, Nathaniel Aziel Gonsalves, described harassment by a supervisor. The complaint described the supervisor as saying that "Gonsalves 'wasn't like most black people,' that he 'didn't act ghetto,' and further called him a 'zebra' because he was 'neither black nor white.'"

Some of the plaintiffs were assigned to the most physically demanding posts in Tesla or passed over for promotion, according to the lawsuit.

It said that Montieco Justice, a production associate at Tesla's Fremont factory, was immediately demoted upon returning to Tesla after taking an authorized leave of absence as a result of contracting COVID-19.

Tesla did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on Thursday or Friday. The automaker is facing at least 10 lawsuits alleging widespread race discrimination or sexual harassment, including one by a California state civil rights agency.

Tesla in February responded to the expected lawsuit by the California state agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, saying it opposes discrimination and investigates all complaints.

"Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously," it said in a company blog.

On Monday, a federal judge in California ordered a new trial on the damages Tesla owes to a Black former factory worker who accused the company of race discrimination, after he turned down a $15 million award.

This month, a Tesla shareholder filed a lawsuit accusing CEO Elon Musk and the company's board of directors of neglecting worker complaints and fostering a toxic workplace culture.

Tesla hit by new lawsuit alleging racial abuse against Black workers
 

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Comments (5)
Mike Renzi
Mike Renzi Jul 01, 2022 6:56AM ET
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the race card, America's national pastime
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 01, 2022 6:56AM ET
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Excusing racism. The right's core value.
Alonzo Higgins
Alonzo Higgins Jul 01, 2022 6:56AM ET
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Has is it pulling the race card when you get called a racial slur to your face? I guess you are saying that should be acceptable for someone going to work to do their job.
Barak David
Barak David Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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black employees see that they can get millions in a lawsuit vs. getting thousands in paycheck.. I cant really blame them for doing it
Captain Virus
Captain Virus Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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Actually you can blame them.
Alonzo Higgins
Alonzo Higgins Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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They irony of your comment is that these people were going to work. It shows tired racial stereotypes continue. No one should be subjected to racial slurs or any other type of hostile work environment just to get a paycheck!
Alonzo Higgins
Alonzo Higgins Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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Blaming the victims of abuse is wrong.
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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Exactly. Make the workplace intolerable, then besmearch those who object as unwilling to work. It plays on the same old red neck racists tropes but, as with so much of right wing thought nowadays, it fails to ascertain an accurate view of matters.
Matthew Petyk
Matthew Petyk Jul 01, 2022 5:45AM ET
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.. you don't have any proof. it's just accusations at this point. unfortunately, these stories play on the ignorance and bias on both sides. your stance is no better than the others until there is proof instead of hearsay.
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Jul 01, 2022 3:05AM ET
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Welcome to run of the mill democrat tactics
Alonzo Higgins
Alonzo Higgins Jul 01, 2022 3:05AM ET
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This story has nothing to do with politics.
Rick Karstedt
Rick Karstedt Jul 01, 2022 12:34AM ET
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Welcome Elon to the world of Conservatism!
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 01, 2022 12:34AM ET
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Conservatism = blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination.
John Laurens
John Laurens Jun 30, 2022 10:58PM ET
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Racism industry working it like they do.
 
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