Tesla’s Fight with Black Workers Tars Reputation

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 22, 2022

Few companies are as well known as Tesla, whose name and reputation have spread globally. From electric vehicles to clean energy, the company is often discussed for its innovation and forward progress. However, not every piece of news is positive. In fact, the company has found itself in hot water many times, with multiple lawsuits leveled against it over the years.

However, one of the most recent legal cases against it, which deals with racial discrimination, stands out as particularly damaging.

The lawsuit comes from fifteen current and former Black employees who are accusing Tesla of racial discrimination and harassment. It includes managers and supervisors at the company who allegedly perpetuated racism and discrimination. According to the lawsuit, Tesla’s factories have been “systematically turned into a racially hostile work environment.”

But this is not the first time Tesla has been accused of racial discrimination, with the company already being sued by California’s civil rights regulator. The previous lawsuit began in February after a three-year investigation, which found evidence of racial segregation at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

The lawsuit involving the Fremont factory pointed out multiple instances of racial discrimination, including racist language and drawings targeting Black employees. There were also reports of Black employees receiving harsher penalties than White employees and receiving less pay and fewer opportunities.

The complaints against the company regarding racial harassment, discrimination, and retaliation spanned almost a decade and received little attention from Tesla.

The fifteen plaintiffs in the new lawsuit accuse Tesla of much of the same. Among the accusations are overlooking Black employees for promotions, racial slurs going unpunished, and failure to promptly remove racist graffiti. One of the plaintiffs even reported being attacked.

According to the plaintiff, he was tackled by another employee while on the job. After the incident, he reported it to the person in charge, only to be told to “suck it up and be a man, this happens here all the time.” The plaintiff also reported further harassment that included metal bolts being hurled at him by another employee.

The fifteen employees are not the first individuals to come forward. There have been an alarming number of lawsuits against Tesla’s Fremont factory that deal with sexual and racial harassment. In total, there have been nearly 50, which raises concern in a factory that size.

One lawsuit worth mentioning involves Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator from the Fremont factory. His reports do not differ from the other allegations Tesla is facing, with Diaz saying he faced significant verbal abuse along with the other Black workers.

In October 2021, Diaz won his racial discrimination case and was awarded millions in damages. While the amount originally totaled $137 million awarded by a jury, it was taken down to $15 million by the judge. Diaz rejected the money and appears to have his sights set on another trial.

While the outcome of these various lawsuits remains to be seen, the cases seem to have merit considering the long history of similar reports. But one thing is for sure, Tesla’s reputation has taken a serious blow.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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