Tesla Slammed With Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination

Tesla has been slammed with a proposed class action lawsuit over allegations its California production plant is a “hotbed for racist behavior.”

Filed Monday in California Superior Court in Oakland, the racial discrimination class action claims that black employees were addressed using racial slurs that included the routing use of the “n-word” and were told to suck it up when they complained about the offensive language.

Plaintiff Marcus Vaughn, a former General Assembly Associate for Tesla for a period of 6 months who filed the complaint, says he was targeted and harassed because of his race, according to the Tesla racial discrimination class action lawsuit. “Supervisors regularly witness employees engaging in offensive racist conduct, and also engage in race harassment themselves, therefore giving license to subordinates to do the same,” the lawsuit claims.

According to the proposed class action lawsuit, these alleged actions on the part of Tesla “have created an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment for African-American employees” at Tesla’s production facility in Fremont, California.” The suit goes on to say that Vaughn observed other African-American co-workers being subjected to the same racial slurs.

Shortly after filing a written complaint to Human Resources and Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding the alleged racism directed at him and his co-workers, Vaughn says he was terminated on October 31, 2017 for “not having a positive attitude,” the complaint states.

He goes on to state that back in May, Musk reportedly told factory employees to essentially just deal with it if they were called racial slurs. “Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in an email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

This marks the third lawsuit filed this year accusing the electric car manufacturer of racial discrimination. In March, Plaintiff DeWitt Lambert filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Court, saying he was sexually and racially harassed at the Fremont plant. He is currently suspended with pay pending an investigation into the allegations. In October, three former employees also filed racial discrimination claims against the company. Vaughn’s lawsuit, however, is the first to bring the alleged racial discrimination claims on behalf of a large class of African-American workers.

Vaughn is seeking to represent a class comprised of African-Americans who are current and former employees working on the production floor at the Tesla Factory at any time from November 9, 2016 to the present. He is requesting damages, including punitive and compensatory, under California’s anti-discrimination law.

Vaughn and the putative class are represented by Lawrence Organ and Navruz Avloni of California Civil Rights Law Group and Bryan Schwartz and Logan Starr of Bryan Schwartz Law.

The Tesla Racial Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit is Marcus Vaughn et al vs. Tesla Inc., Case No. RG17882082 in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.

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