Tesla said in a blog post published on Wednesday that it is expecting a lawsuit from the State of California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) regarding claims of “systematic racial discrimination and harassment.”
The post, titled, “The DFEH’s Misguided Lawsuit,” mentions a span of dates from 2015 to 2019 when an employee claimed to be racially discriminated at its Fremont factory in Northern California. In 2021, Tesla most notably was on the losing end of a $137 million judgment for Owen Diaz, a former contract employee at the Fremont plant who had claimed he was racially discriminated against during work hours. Tesla stated it planned to appeal the case last following the ruling.
“The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) intends to file a lawsuit against Tesla alleging systematic racial discrimination and harassment,” Tesla said. “This follows a three-year investigation during which the DFEH—whose mission is supposedly to protect workers—has never once raised any concern about current workplace practices at Tesla. Rather, the lawsuit appears focused on alleged misconduct by production associates at the Fremont factory that took place between 2015 and 2019.”
Tesla added that it is against all forms of discrimination and harassment in the posting.
“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team whose work is shown in this public report. Tesla has always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously. Above all, Tesla continues to seek to provide a workplace that is safe, respectful, fair, and inclusive—all of which are vital to achieving our mission.”
Tesla says it employs a “majority-minority workforce” at the Fremont factory, and offers the best paying automotive industry jobs to over 30,000 California residents. “No company has done more for sustainability or the creation of clean energy jobs than Tesla. Yet, at a time when manufacturing jobs are leaving California, the DFEH has decided to sue Tesla instead of constructively working with us,” the company added.
The automaker also states that, in nearly fifty occasions where DFEH representatives have asked discriminated-against workers whether Tesla performed misconduct, the company has been cleared 100 percent of the time.
Tesla said that, once the DFEH files the lawsuit, it will ask the court to ensure facts and evidence in the case will be heard. “To date, despite repeated requests, the DFEH has declined to provide Tesla with the specific allegations or the factual bases for its lawsuit. Attacking a company like Tesla that has done so much good for California should not be the overriding aim of a state agency with prosecutorial authority. The interests of workers and fundamental fairness must come first.”
Tesla recently lost its African-American Vice President of People Valerie Capers Workman, who left the automaker after three years.
The full post can be read here.
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