A new report highlights the disturbing racist and discriminatory treatment Black employees were allegedly subjected to at Tesla’s flagship California plant.
The report shares accounts from three former workers included in a class-action lawsuit against Tesla filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in February, LA Times reports. A single mother, an Army veteran, and a former refinery worker described being fired after complaining about the rampant racism and harassment on display at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory.
The former plant workers recalled instances where Black workers were called the N-word on the assembly line, forced to work in a segregated area of the factory called “the plantation”, and even being terminated after being called “monkeys” by a manager.
Monica Chatman, Kimberly Romby, and Nigel Jones detailed accounts of being tormented at work in the form of racial slurs in English and Spanish, homophobic harassment, being overworked and underpaid, as well as forced into the hardest jobs without little to no promotion.
“There was a time where I worked three months straight — no days off,” Chatman said.
After bringing their concerns to the company, the workers say they were either fired or ignored.
Tesla is “modern-day slavery,” Chatman said. “And we are the crabs in the barrel.”
She shared accounts of Latino and white workers casually using the N-word with their supervisors.
“You would hear n— this and n— that,” she recalled. ”It was the norm. It was Tesla’s tradition.”
While Chatman didn’t hear Asian workers use the N-word, she said they “would make chicken jokes,” instead.
Chatman’s attorney Lawrence Organ, claims that Tesla is attempting to use the “same tactic” it used to counter separate complaints made by Black workers, including one where a Black elevator operator was awarded $137 million after the company ignored racial taunts and offensive graffiti.
“Instead of attacking the victims of racism at their facility, Tesla should focus on taking remedial actions designed to end the racist conduct,” Organ said.
Another shocking claim from a number of Black employees reports that they were allegedly “moved to the back of the plant” when Elon Musk, Tesla CEO would visit the facility. It was reportedly done because “they didn’t want a Black face up there.”
Tesla has denied the former employees’ accounts, claiming the former staffers never complained about racism and they were fired as a result of their own workplace behavior.
“Race plays no role in any of Tesla’s work assignments, promotions, pay or discipline,” attorneys for Tesla said in a statement. “Tesla prohibits discrimination, in any form.”