Poor Elon Musk just can't catch a break. After admitting that his company hasn't yet figured out how to weld (a fairly critical task for auto OEMs), blowing through Model 3 production deadlines (which probably had something to do with rumors that 'the most advanced auto OEM in the world" was making components by hand), and firing 100's of employees, the embattled company now finds itself locked in yet another employee lawsuit...this time alleging racial discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed by 3 workers in Alameda County Superior Court, alleges that Tesla effectively contributed to the creation of a "hostile work environment" in which supervisors routinely used racial slurs and drew racist graffiti around its factory. Here is more from Mercury News:
Three former Tesla factory workers charge in a new suit the company’s factory is a hostile environment for black workers, adding to earlier accusations of racial harassment.
The men, who are African-American, claim in a new complaint filed Monday in state court that Tesla supervisors and workers used racial epithets and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes.
The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, claims Owen Diaz and his son, Demetric, were called the N-word while they worked at the Fremont factory, and supervisors did little to stop it. A third man, Lamar Patterson, also claims he was subjected to insensitive racist remarks.
Demetric Diaz complained about the regular use of epithets to the staffing agency and another supervisor, the suit said. The supervisor told him he was just a replaceable temporary worker. Diaz was dismissed less than a week later in October 2015.
One of the defendants recalled having to break up a dispute between his son and a Tesla supervisor who was shouting racial slurs. After complaining about the event, Owen Diaz says he began to receive "poor work evaluations" and ultimately left in May 2016.
One afternoon, Owen brought lunch to his son’s work station and interrupted a dispute between Demetric Diaz and his son’s supervisor, according to the suit. The supervisor cursed and used a racial slur.
“This is supposed to be a professional work environment,” Owen Diaz said in an interview. He felt crushed. “There was nothing I could do.”
Owen Diaz continued to work as an elevator operator. But over time, the suit claimed, the harassment grew worse. A co-worker regularly used the N-word. Diaz found an offensive “pickaninny” cartoon with the caption “Boo!” drawn on a bale of cardboard.
Owen Diaz also got into a heated argument with the supervisor who drew the cartoon, the suit said. He complained about the incident, and started to receive poor work evaluations. Diaz left Tesla around May 2016.
Patterson worked as an elevator operator between January and August 2016, and also claims in the suit to have been the exposed to epithets and hostility.
Of course, while Tesla acknowledges receiving a complaint from Owen Diaz in October 2015 about a "belligerent co-worker," the company says the complaint made no mention of "racist language or epithets."
A Tesla spokesman denied the suit’s allegations and said the men never raised the complaints to the company during their brief time at the plant.
“Given our size, we recognize that unfortunately at times there will be cases of harassment or discrimination in corners of the company,” the spokesman said. “From what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case.”
The Tesla spokesman said discrimination complaints typically first are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. None of the former employees filed a claim with these agencies during their time at the plant.
The company received a complaint from Owen Diaz in October 2015 about a belligerent co-worker. But, the company said, “that email made no mention of the use of any racist language or epithets.”
Meanwhile, as plumes of smoke seem to be emanating from every corner of Tesla's factory, at least one group doesn't seem to be that worried by the barrage of awful news lately: TSLA shareholders.