EEOC sues Tesla over alleged racial discrimination of Black employees

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Tesla on Thursday, arguing that Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle company has discriminated against its Black employees by “subjecting them to severe or pervasive racial harassment and by creating a hostile work environment because of their race.”

The complaint focused on practices that allegedly have taken place since May 2015 at Tesla’s manufacturing facilities in Fremont, California. The EEOC requested a jury trial and compensation to the aggrieved parties. 

The lawsuit detailed numerous examples of an alleged hostile work environment, including frequent use of racial slurs, including the N-word, and “race-based stereotyping” that the lawsuit claimed “permeated” the Fremont factory. 

The lawsuit claimed that non-Black managers and non-managerial employees alike “directly addressed Black employees individually and collectively as N-Words.” Some non-Black employees allegedly began referring to Black employees as N-Words in a manner that one Black worker described in the lawsuit as “casual and normal.” 

For example, the lawsuit claimed, non-Black workers would say, “Hey, [expletive], can you hand me that…?” 

According to the lawsuit, “Black employees faced other race-based slurs and insults, as well. Non-Black workers have referred to Black employees as ‘Black b—-,’ ‘Black a– b—-,’ ‘boy,’ and ‘monkey,’ among other slurs. Non-Black workers have also reportedly mocked Black employees by making ‘monkey’ noises.”

There was graffiti with racial epithets “including swastikas, threats, and nooses” throughout the factory, including on desks, in elevators, on equipment and in bathrooms.

“The racial misconduct was frequent, ongoing, inappropriate, unwelcome and occurred across all shifts, departments, and positions, including but not limited to the Production Associate position,” the lawsuit claimed.

The lawsuit also alleged that Tesla would retaliate against Black employees who made complaints of racial harassment, including through schedule changes, less desirable duties, unjustified write-ups or discharge. The lawsuit also took issue with Tesla’s alleged lack of action upon learning of the discrimination. 

The Hill has reached out to Tesla for comment.

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