Tesla sued by California agency alleging racial discrimination – Roadshow

James Martin/CNET

A California agency tasked with enforcing the state’s civil rights laws has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging racial discrimination and harassment occurred at the electric carmaker.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said it filed the complaint Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court.

“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment,” Kevin Kish, the agency’s director, said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment but criticized the agency’s investigation in a blog post Wednesday.

“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” Tesla said in the post.

Tesla called the legal action “unfair and counterproductive” and pointed out that it’s the “last remaining automobile manufacturer in California” and that the workforce at its Fremont factory is predominantly minority.

The ageny’s lawsuit comes a day after a Black gay woman who formerly worked at another Tesla factory in California filed a lawsuit against the company ignored the racial and homophobic slurs and physical harm she endure. Kaylen Barker, who worked at Tesla’s Lathrop plant, alleged that she was struck with a grinding tool by a white co-worker who was calling her the n-word, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Alameda County.

The white employee was fired but then rehired two weeks later “without any forewarning or explanation,” she said in her complaint.Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on that case either.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk announced plans in October to relocate the company’s corporate headquarters from California to Texas, but also said it would continue to expand its activities in California.

That same month, Tesla was ordered to pay nearly $137 million in damages in a lawsuit that alleged a Black former employee was subjected to racist abuse, discrimination and harassment at the company’s Fremont facility.

Silicon Valley has been a frequent target of the DFEH’s scrutiny in recent years. In a lawsuit last July, the agency accused gaming giant Activision Blizzard of discriminating against women and fomenting a toxic work culture. Microsoft, which announced in January it would purchase the game-maker for nearly $69 billion in cash, has pledged to change Activision’s culture.

A month earlier, games developer Riot Games agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle a 2018 gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the agency.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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