An African-American employee who worked for Tesla before getting fired, accused the automaker of being racist toward people of color.
Former Tesla employee Marcus Vaughn, who worked at the company’s Fremont, California, factory, claimed in a lawsuit that black workers were racially profiled at the company. He further described how people of color were continuously harassed at the company, calling it a “hotbed for racist behavior."
"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," Vaughn said in the complaint, filed in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.
Vaughn alleged in the lawsuit that his supervisors and co-workers routinely called him the n-word shortly after he started his job. He also complained about this insensitive behavior by writing to the human resources, but said the company never investigated his claims.
A few months into the job, he was fired for “not having a positive attitude.” His lawsuit seeks unspecified damages under a California anti-discrimination law.
Earlier, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who recently made headlines for firing several employees without properly warning them, sent an email to employees in his company — apparently asking people of color to be thick-skinned and accept racism.
“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 email. “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.”
“The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin,” said Larry Organ, an attorney at the California Civil Rights Law Group, who was contacted by Vaughn after the law firm sued Tesla on behalf of other African-American employees who complained about racial harassment.
"Tesla is not doing enough. It’s somewhat akin to saying ‘stop being politically correct.’ When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce," he explained.
Vaughn’s lawsuit is the third filed this year accusing the company of racism.
Earlier, a female engineer working for the manufacturer of the first electric sports car said she was a victim of “pervasive harassment.” But despite raising concerns with her superiors, the company ignored repeated complaints by AJ Vandermeyden.
Some of the harassment she suffered included “inappropriate language, whistling, and catcalls,” which she experienced on the factory floor.
Tesla was dismissive of her complaints.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Patrick T. Fallon