A California agency is suing Tesla, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, “over racism and harassment toward Black employees at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif., according to a lawsuit filed by the state this week,” NPR reports.
As NPR notes:
The lawsuit describes multiple instances of racist language and drawings toward Black employees, penalizing Black employees more harshly than white employees and denying Black employees career advancement opportunities and equal pay for work similar to that of other employees.
Tesla has described the lawsuit, filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), as “unfair and counterproductive” in a public blog post, basically giving it the ‘this happened so long ago treatment’…since apparently 2015-2019 is ancient history.
“Over the past five years, the DFEH has been asked on almost 50 occasions by individuals who believe they were discriminated against or harassed to investigate Tesla. On every single occasion, once concluded the DFEH has closed its investigation without a finding of misconduct against Tesla,” the company claims.
As per the lawsuit, the Fremont factory is “the only nonunion major American automotive plant in the country,” and it’s the original site of Tesla’s electric vehicle production.
Black employees have not only claimed that there has been racist language directed at them, but they are less likely to be promoted and are underrepresented in managerial roles, as per industry website Electrek.
As Electrek highlighted as an example of the mistreatment:
“Throughout the day, every day, Black and/or African American workers heard Defendants’ workers, leads, supervisors, and managers make racial slurs and comments about Black workers. Examples of the racist language include the n-word, “porch monkey,” “monkey toes,” “boy,” “hood rats,” and “horse hair.” Defendants’ workers, including production leads and supervisors, made references to Black and/or African Americans in racist comments and racist jokes such as “N[ ] word out of the hood,” “from the ghetto,” “Tesla [was] hiring lazy coons,” and “go back to Africa.”
According to one Black worker, they “heard these racial slurs as often as 50-100 times a day.”
While Black workers reportedly struggled for promotions, Musk has raked in billions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Guardian, Musk gained the most, with his net worth growing by 1016% to $294.2 billion since March 2020.