Posted: Nov 14 2017 09:17AM EST
Video Posted: Nov 15 2017 12:13AM EST
Updated: Nov 15 2017 12:27AM EST
FREMONT, Calif. – Tesla Inc.’s production floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” an African-American employee claimed in a lawsuit in which he is seeking that the Fremont carmaker implement policies to prevent and correct harassment.
Marcus Vaughn claimed in the suit that he’s one of more than 100 African-American Tesla workers affected and is seeking permission from an Alameda County judge to sue on behalf of the group, Bloomberg first reported.
“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 alleges.
Tesla did immediately respond to KTVU for comment on Tuesday.
Vaughn’s attorneys, Bryan Schwartz and the California Civil Rights Group, maintain that, despite both verbal and written complaints to upper management and Human Resources of race-based harassment at the Tesla factory in Fremont, the company failed to take appropriate action to stop the pattern and practice of racist harassment of current and former African-American employees.
The harassment centers around Vaughn and other co-workers being called the “N” word by co-workers and supervisors, and then when they complained about it in writing to management and to CEO Elon Musk, either nothing was done or they faced “backlash,” the suit claims.
According to the complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla employees in May, a month after Vaughn started work, which gave mixed messages: “Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” the suit claims the email said. “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.”
Tesla has roughly 33,000 employees globally but has never publicly released its diversity statistics, Bloomberg reported. More than 10,000 people work at its sole auto-assembly plant in Fremont, California, where the United Auto Workers have launched a campaign to persuade workers to join the union. On Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk acknowledged that the company recently fired about 700 workers for low performance.
Vaughn, who worked began working Tesla in April, said he was terminated in late October for “not having a positive attitude.”
Read the complaint here.