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Business News/ Companies / News/  Black workers allege rampant racism at Tesla factory in California, seek class-action status

Black workers allege rampant racism at Tesla factory in California, seek class-action status

Black workers have alleged of facing rampant racism and even derogatory remark during their tenure at Tesla's California-based factory. They have also asked for a class-action from the company

As many as 240 Tesla factory workers have accused that they are facing rampant racial discrimination (MINT)Premium
As many as 240 Tesla factory workers have accused that they are facing rampant racial discrimination (MINT)

As many as 240 workers have claimed of facing rampant racial discrimination during their work tenure at Tesla's California-based factory. These workers also had to face the frequent use of racial slurs by their co-workers. The manufacturing site was also referred to as slave ship by many. The company can face a class-action lawsuite in the matter.

The testimonies were filed on Monday in Alameda County Superior Court comes. Most of the statements came from contractors and employees who worked on the production floor of the factory in Fremont, roughly 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco.

The vast majority of the suitors used to work at the site between 2016 to the present. Lawyers suing Tesla, Inc. estimate at least 6,000 workers could be part of the class.

The individual testimonies are part of a 2017 lawsuit, filed by Marcus Vaughn. Before filing the lawsuit, Marcus had earlier sent a written complaint to human resources department of the firm and also to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In the complaint, he described theh hostile work environment of the company in which he was called slurs by co-workers and supervisors.  However, no investigation was conducted after his complaint. Instead he was fired for “not having a positive attitude," according to his lawyers.

Notably, the lawsuit is just among many of the legal cases alleging racism, harassment and discrimination at the Fremont plant.

‘Be thick-skinned’ about racial harassment, said Musk

Last year, California regulators sued Tesla in a state court regarding the company's apathetic behaviour to racial discrimination among workers. The court had alleged the company of turning a ‘blind eye’to abuses. Moreover, the case mentioned that Elon Musk told workers to be “thick-skinned" about racial harassment. In April, a federal jury awarded another former Tesla employee $3.2 million for racial abuse he suffered.

‘Tesla allowed this kind of harassment to go on as long as it has’ said Tesla employee's lawyer

Bryan Schwartz, one of Vaughn's lawyers, said the case has dragged on for years, because Tesla sought to force the lawsuit into arbitration.

At last, California Supreme Court in April intervened and allowed Black workers to seek a public injunction in court. This will force the EV maker to change its work environment.

“To have this scope of egregious harassment right here in Silicon Valley, it's disgusting," Schwartz said, adding that it's shocking that “Tesla has allowed this kind of pervasive harassment to go on as long as it has."

There were no official response of Tesla in the matter.

All of the daeclarants have said that they heard the use of racial slur in the factory, Half of the declarants said that they heard supervisors and managers using such words. Many sai that they observed black workers tasked with physically laborious work and disciplined more frequently.

Production associate Albert Blakes said in his statement that it was difficult to go to work, knowing he would face racist slurs, references to slavery and offensive graffiti for 12 hours at a time. He said he made a verbal complaint to human resources in late 2021, but never heard back and nothing changed.

“Something needs to be done to hold Tesla accountable for the racism that takes place at the Fremont factory to set an example that this racism is not tolerated in workplaces in California," he said.

(With inputs from AP)

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Updated: 08 Jun 2023, 08:17 AM IST
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