A California civil rights agency has filed a complaint against Tesla for alleged racial discrimination and harassment at its Fremont plant, according to the Wall Street Journal. “After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, the DFEH has found evidence that the Tesla factory in Fremont is a racially segregated workplace,” California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Director Kevin Kish said in a statement.
The DFEH said black employees were frequently exposed to racial slurs and graffiti, with one worker saying he heard such slurs 50 to 100 times a day. “Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discrimination in job assignment, discipline, pay and promotion, creating a hostile work environment,” Kish said.
Tesla called the lawsuit “unfair and unproductive” in a blog posted before the complaint was made public. “Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated employee relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” the company wrote.
“Tesla is also the last car manufacturer in California. The Fremont plant has a majority-minority workforce and provides the highest paying jobs in the auto industry to more than 30,000 Californians.” She also said that more than 50 previous DFEH investigations over the past five years have been closed with no findings of wrongdoing.
Last October, Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million in damages to a former black worker who accused the company of turning a blind eye to racial discrimination and abuse in 2015 and 2016.
The verdict was not accepted by Tesla, with a spokesperson saying that the company was “not perfect” at the time, but that it had “come a long way” since then. Tesla recently moved its headquarters from California to Texas, but also said it would increase its manufacturing operations by 50 per cent in California.
Tesla has had previous run-ins with the state of California over COVID-19-related plant closures, and is not the only high-profile company on the DFEH’s radar. The agency recently sued Activision Blizzard for alleged harassment and discrimination against female employees.