- Tesla was the subject of a 32-month probe examining its anti-discriminatory procedures.
- Back compensation for Black employees who were wrongfully passed over for promotions and raises, restoration of workers who were fired for racist reasons, and punitive damages are also sought in the case.
California regulators have filed a lawsuit against Tesla Inc., alleging that the electric car maker has discriminated against Black employees at its San Francisco Bay Area manufacturing, which has been compared to monkeys and slaves.
The high-stakes case is likely to exacerbate a schism between Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, and the state where he founded the company. Tesla is currently valued over $900 billion, less than 20 years after Musk set out to revolutionise the automobile industry.
After openly battling with California officials over whether Tesla’s factory should remain shut down during the spring of 2020 while the coronavirus pandemic was still in its early stages, Musk moved Tesla’s headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin, Texas, last year.
Tesla’s move to Texas is being framed as an attempt to avoid accountability for turning “a blind eye to years of complaints from Black workers who protest commonplace use of racial slurs on the assembly line,” according to the 39-page lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Musk allegedly ordered workers to be “thick-skinned” in response to the complaints, according to the lawsuit “about racial harassment, contributing to a culture that takes a long time to clean up racist graffiti and other hate symbols strewn about the plant.
Other racist rhetoric used in the factory included comparisons of Black workers to “porch monkeys” and “hood rats,” as well as advice that they “return to Africa.” “as stated in the complaint According to the complaint, the factory was racially separated, and the area where Black labourers worked was dubbed the “slave ship” or “plantation.”
Tesla issued a statement on its website before the case was announced, calling it “unfair and counterproductive.”
According to the corporation, the agency has been asked to investigate complaints of discrimination and harassment on approximately 50 occasions over the last five years, and has closed each probe without finding any proof of wrongdoing.
“It therefore strains credibility for the agency to now allege, after a three-year investigation, that systematic racial discrimination and harassment somehow existed at Tesla,” the company wrote, while trying to frame the lawsuit as a publicity stunt.
According to the lawsuit, the charges against Tesla stem from a 32-month probe into the company’s discriminatory practises. Back compensation for Black employees who were wrongfully passed over for promotions and raises, restoration of workers who were fired for racist reasons, and punitive damages are also sought in the case.
Musk, who routinely uses his 73 million-follower Twitter account to remark on Telsa-related matters, has not to mention the discrimination case as of late Thursday.
This isn’t the first time Tesla’s treatment of its nearly 15,000 plant workers in Fremont, California, has been questioned. Even though Tesla has constructed additional plants, including one in Texas, the factory, located about 40 miles (65 kilometres) southeast of San Francisco, remains the company’s largest manufacturer of electric automobiles.