Lawsuit Alleges Tesla Turned Blind Eye to Racism

Tesla says it should have investigated further

A California civil rights group filed a lawsuit against vehicle maker Tesla, alleging the company did not adequately respond to complaints from an African American employee of racial harassment.

According to a press release detailing the lawsuit, DeWitt Lambert, a black man from Alabama, relocated to Fremont, CA to work in a Tesla factory. While working on the assembly line, he was allegedly subject to racism, which included being called the “N” word by other employees. He was also the target of comments about his penis size and had a drill gun placed in his buttocks, the suit alleges.

When Lambert complained to a supervisor about the harassment, these co-workers threatened to get him fired, according to the statement from the California Civil Rights Law Group. Complaining to his Human Resources department did nothing to stop the torment, and some of his harassers were even eventually promoted, the statement continues.

In October 2015, there was video captured of the alleged abuse. KPIX 5 TV in the San Francisco Bay Area revealed that the minute-long video was taken by a supervisor at the factory.

 

 

TechCrunch shared this statement from Tesla on the lawsuit:

“Although Dewitt continued to have regular interaction with HR on a host of topics, for which he thanked them for their support, we have no evidence indicating that he came to HR with any further complaints of this nature. Then, through an attorney, Dewitt submitted a letter six months later demanding a very large payment or he would file a lawsuit.

Once again, we looked into his claims and found that the co-workers Dewitt complained about described the situation very differently. They claimed once again they had all been friends and socialized outside of work, and that all of them (including Dewitt) used similar insensitive language with each other on a regular, ongoing basis, including in social contexts outside of the workplace.”

The response goes on to say that DeWitt ended up suspended with pay for violating privacy policy at Tesla by posting videos of Tesla technology—something that is forbidden at the company. Since the lawsuit, which followed after that, Tesla did admit in the statement that is should have been more thorough in investigating the lawsuit. The full statement from Tesla is

Read the full statement from Tesla here on TechCrunch.