US anti-discrimination agency sues Tesla over 'pervasive' racism

A federal anti-discrimination agency filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Elon Musk's Tesla of allowing "pervasive" racism at its Silicon Valley car plant and retaliating against Black workers who opposed such abuse.

US anti-discrimination agency sues Tesla over 'pervasive' racism

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In a lawsuit filed by the US Anti-Discrimination Commission, it is alleged that racist graffiti directed at Black workers at the electric auto maker's Fremont plant was "pervasive".

The federal anti-discrimination office filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Elon Musk’s Tesla, accusing it of "pervasive racism" at its Silicon Valley auto plant and retaliating towards Black workers who objected to such abuse.

According to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in federal court, black workers at Tesla's Fremont factory, California, have endured stereotyping and racial abuse since at least 2001.

The lawsuit stated that Tesla "subjected Black workers at its Fremont, California manufacturing facilities... to severe or widespread racial harassing and created and maintained an hostile work environment based on their race."

The commission stated that "the racial harassment was widespread, continued, inappropriate, and unwelcome, and it occurred in all departments, shifts and positions."

Tesla has not responded to our request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, racist graffiti included swastikas and nooses, as well as threats. The suit claims that some of the graffiti appeared on vehicles as they were rolling off the production lines.

The commission stated that Black workers were subjected to racist insults including "N-word" variations, "monkey," and "boy."

According to the EEOC, "Slurs are used openly and casually in areas with high traffic and worker hubs."

According to the lawsuit, Tesla supervisors and management witnessed racial abuses, but failed to intervene. Tesla also failed to take action to address the misconduct.

The lawsuit claimed that black Tesla employees who complained about racist treatment were reassigned to unfavorable duties or shifts or fired.

A Black Tesla employee said, "After I voiced the unhappiness I began getting written up for everything that was previously acceptable--like listening music while working," according to court documents.

The commission stated that it was unable reach an agreement with Tesla.

The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages, compensation to Black workers who have been wronged and an order from Tesla that it curb racism in the factory.

California sued Tesla last year, alleging that Black employees were subjected to discrimination and harassment at the plant, which was described as a "racially-segregated workplace" in the complaint.

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing enforces the civil rights laws of the state. It has received hundreds of complaints.

Tesla released a press release at the time saying that it "opposes any form of discrimination or harassment" and is committed to creating "a work environment that is fair, inclusive, safe and respectful."

In 2021, several female Tesla employees filed lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in the Fremont facility, and in another case, a Black employee was awarded millions in a racism case.