Black Tesla workers say they’ve been called the N-Word in factories

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A group of Black Tesla employees have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming they face racial discrimination at its factories in California. Tesla faces at least 10 sexual or racial harassment lawsuits, including one recently filed by a Tesla shareholder accusing the company of harboring a toxic work environment as well as one by a civil rights agency.

According to the lawsuit in California state court, 15 former and current black employees said they regularly experienced offensive comments from co-workers, managers and human resources employees, Reuters reports.

Some of the comments mentioned in the lawsuit include the words “n****r”, “slavery” or “plantation”, as well as sexual comments, i.e. “love the booty”. Apart from the offensive comments, the complainants also claimed that they were often assigned to the most physically demanding jobs in factories or overlooked for promotions. The majority of the harassment allegedly took place at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, according to Reuters.

In response to previous accusations of racial discrimination, Valerie Capers Workman, vice president of Tesla, published a statement in October 2021, arguing that “racial slurs (including the n-word)” were being used in a “friendly” manner on the floor of the Fremont plant. Tesla did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

This is not the first time the automaker has been accused of racial discrimination. In October 2021, a federal jury in San Francisco ordered Tesla to pay former black contractor $137 million ($190 million) following allegations that he was racially discriminated against at work (the amount was later reduced to US$15 million (US$21) after Tesla disputed the allegations). In February, Tesla faced another discrimination lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that alleges the company discriminated against its workers of color“by segregating them at the lowest levels of the workforce”.

Earlier this month, a Tesla shareholder deposit a lawsuit against the company, accusing Elon Musk and Tesla’s board of directors of undermining their actions by ignoring worker complaints and promoting a toxic workplace.

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