The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has taken legal action against Tesla, filing a lawsuit that alleges the automaker's complicity in creating a hostile work environment for its Black employees at the Fremont, California factory. The lawsuit, with roots dating back to at least 2015, asserts disturbing instances of racial harassment and inadequate responses by the company.
The EEOC, responsible for enforcing civil rights laws within workplaces, has brought forward serious allegations. The lawsuit claims that Tesla allowed non-Black employees to openly use racial slurs and epithets in areas highly trafficked by workers and around production lines. Furthermore, it alleges that supervisors and managers were not only aware of such offensive conduct but failed to take any corrective action.
When Black workers reported incidents involving racial slurs, insults, graffiti, and other forms of misconduct to Tesla's human resources department and managerial personnel, the company, according to the lawsuit, did not take the necessary measures to address these issues effectively.
The mistreatment of Black workers at Tesla's Fremont facility is said to have persisted for years. Employees endured racial slurs, monkey noises, derogatory language, and, shockingly, racial slurs were reportedly used by managers at times. Disturbing racist graffiti, including symbols such as nooses and swastikas, was discovered on desks, elevators, and vehicles within the facility.
Efforts to resolve these issues through mandatory mediation between Tesla and the EEOC in June 2023 proved unsuccessful, prompting the commission to file the lawsuit. The EEOC is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, back pay for affected workers, and injunctive relief aimed at reforming Tesla's employment practices and preventing future discrimination.
This lawsuit comes on the heels of a previous case where Tesla faced legal action from a state civil rights agency in California, resulting in a $3.2 million judgment in favor of a Black former employee who experienced racial discrimination while working at the company in 2015. It's worth noting that the initial judgment in that case was $137 million but was later reduced, leading the plaintiff to request a new trial.
Notably, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has also filed a lawsuit, echoing allegations of racial discrimination against Black employees at Tesla's Fremont factory.