Tesla’s production process has deeper problems than an inability to meet targets for getting cars to owners — a new lawsuit alleges the company’s manufacturing floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior.”
In the lawsuit, former employee Marcus Vaughn, who said he was fired from the Palo Alto electric car maker for “not having a positive attitude,” claims supervisors and co-workers called him the n-word, but his written report to HR about it drew no investigation.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
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Vaughn’s legal action, filed in California state court in Oakland on Nov. 13, is at least the third lawsuit filed this year by black workers alleging racial slurs were used against them and that the company ignored their complaints, Reuters reported.
Vaughn’s lawsuit appears to be the first seeking certification as a class-action, to bring multiple black employees or former employees into the case.
His legal complaint included a memo it said was from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to employees on May 31, according to Bloomberg. In the memo, Musk appears to push back against minority workers’ grievances.
“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 the emailed memo.
“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.”
In the lawsuit, Vaughn claimed racist abuse from bosses and colleagues was routine, after he started working at the factory in Fremont in April. He said he was fired in October.
Vaughn is seeking unspecified damages under California anti-discrimination law.
On top of lawsuits, Tesla is facing criticism over its failure to meet production targets for its entry-level sedan, the Model 3.
Photo: Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2015 (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Tags: black, courts, discrimination, elon musk, lawsuit, n-word, tesla