Tesla sued for 'systemic' racism at its Fremont, California plant

Campus faces yet another racial discrimination lawsuit as Clean Air Act violations claims also hit the fan

Yet another lawsuit was this week filed against Tesla citing a "systemically … racially hostile work environment" at the company's Fremont, California plant. 

This one's even widening the envelope to include similar allegations of bad behavior at Tesla's battery "megafactory" in nearby Lathrop, CA. 

For anyone who has followed previous racial discrimination accusations against Tesla at Fremont, this latest complaint [PDF] filed this week in California's Alameda County Superior Court won't sound particularly original.

The 14 Black, Hispanic and Latino plaintiffs in the case, who worked at either Tesla's Fremont or Lathrop facilities, allege they were all were targeted for discrimination, claiming they were called derogatory names and subjected to racist graffiti, and say both occurred on multiple occasions. According to the lawsuit, anyone who spoke up was retaliated against with measures including disciplinary actions, bullying, transfers, increased hostility and wrongful termination.

"This is a case of racially motivated harassment and intimidation in which the Tesla factories have been systemically turned into, and continues to be, a racially hostile work environment," lawyers for the plaintiffs say in their suit. "The Defendants have not only refused to take the necessary steps to prevent and eliminate such racial harassment and intimidation but rather, have affirmatively obstructed attempts to remedy the harassment which is rampant in Tesla's factories."

Tesla and a number of named and unnamed employees are listed as defendants in the suit. Company owner Elon Musk isn't named in the complaint, which levels 14 charges against the defendants ranging from racial discrimination and sexual harassment to interference with constitutional rights, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and wrongful termination. 

The group is asking for damages and an injunction requiring Tesla to train employees against, and enforce policies pertaining to, harassment and discrimination. Lawyers for the plaintiffs didn't respond to questions from The Register

Fremont complaints: Please take a number

Along with this latest discrimination lawsuit, Tesla is also still facing a lawsuit filed last year by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging "widespread and ongoing racial harassment of Black employees" at the Fremont plant. 

Two individual discrimination complaints filed by ex-Fremont employees DeWitt Lambert and Owen Diaz had opposite outcomes as well, with Lambert losing his case and Diaz eventually settling for around $3 million. Similar lawsuits were also filed by a group of 15 Fremont employees in 2022, with a common thread of alleged bad behavior and retaliation running through all of them.

Tesla has tried, and failed, to force additional racial discrimination cases into arbitration.

A lawsuit was also recently filed against Tesla Fremont accusing it of polluting its local environment. 

A suit filed in California District Court alleged that Tesla Fremont regularly violated the Clean Air Act by emitting amounts of harmful chemicals in excess of what's allowed. That's not an unfounded claim, either, as Tesla settled an EPA case filed against the Fremont plant in 2022 for nearly identical Clean Air Act violations. 

The Fremont plant, Tesla's first and an automotive factory since it began life under GM in 1962, also caught fire last month.

Tesla has yet to file a response to this latest discrimination lawsuit, or answer any of our questions about the matter, but we understand - it's facing a lot of legal trouble at Fremont, and this new suit isn't even scheduled for a case management conference until mid October. We wouldn't want to rush them. ®

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