Lawsuit alleges racial discrimination at Tesla factory

A black man who used to work at Tesla’s factory in Fremont has filed a lawsuit alleging that the electric car manufacturer has fostered an “intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment” in which racial slurs are used routinely.

Marcus Vaughn, the plaintiff, worked for Tesla earlier this year, from April 23 to Oct. 31, during which time he and at least one other black employee were repeatedly called the N-word, according to the lawsuit.

UPDATE 11/16 Tesla labels lawsuit alleging workplace racism as ‘extortion.’

Vaughn says that Tesla’s management failed to take action to prevent racially motivated harassment and failed to take corrective action after that harassment occurred – which is an alleged violation of the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The lawsuit states:

“Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla Factory is pre-Civil Rights Era race discrimination.”

The lawsuit was filed in Alameda County by attorney Lawrence Organ with the California Civil Rights Law Group, and seeks to be certified as a class action suit representing current and former black employees working on the production floor at the Tesla Factory at any time since Nov. 9, 2016.

The plaintiff claims that repeated incidents involving racist behavior were reported to supervisors, including Human Resources and CEO Elon Musk, to no avail. Vaughn is seeking injunctive relief, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.

Tesla’s team of media representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.