On Thursday, fifteen Black former or present Tesla employees filed a complaint against the electric vehicle manufacturer, claiming they were the targets of racist abuse and harassment in the company’s factories.
According to the lawsuit filed in a California state court, the workers said they were frequently the target of inappropriate racist remarks and actions by coworkers, managers, and human resources personnel.
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The lawsuit added that Tesla’s “standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination.” The harassment, which mostly took place at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory, included using the terms “nigger,” “slavery,” or “plantation,” as well as making sexual comments like “likes booty,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, some of the plaintiffs were denied promotions or given jobs that required the most physical labor at Tesla.
It said that Montieco Justice, a production associate at Tesla’s Fremont factory, was immediately demoted upon returning to Tesla after taking an authorized leave of absence as a result of contracting COVID-19.
Around April of last year, an employee identified in the lawsuit as “Cory” who was working on solar panels at Musk’s home made a similar accusation against Gonsalves, according to the complaint. Rather than investigate the incident, the company fired Gonsalves less than two hours after Cory spoke with Musk, the plaintiffs allege.
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When Gonsalves went to the human resources department and his regional manager, they said the decision to fire him “came from higher up” and that there was nothing they could do about it, according to the complaint.
Tesla has been accused of racism and harassment in earlier suits, including one by California’s civil rights regulator that cited evidence the Fremont plant is a “racially segregated workplace.” The company published a preemptive blog post ahead of that suit saying it took discrimination seriously and had a dedicated process for investigating complaints.