EEOC Takes On Tesla: Allegations Of Racial Discrimination And Retaliation Spark Federal Lawsuit
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it has filed a federal lawsuit against car maker Tesla for racial harassment and retaliation. The company is being sued for allegedly allowing widespread racism and ongoing racial harassment of its Black employees. It is also alleged that Tesla penalized Black workers in retaliation for those who opposed the harassment.
Tesla was initially investigated after EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows filed a commissioner’s charge claiming it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The electric car company was accused of subjecting Black employees to an unlawful hostile work environment and retaliation for those who complained against it.
“Combating systemic harassment in workplaces is a key strategic enforcement priority for the EEOC. Unfortunately, as the lawsuits EEOC has filed this fiscal year show, racial harassment remains a persistent problem in employment. Every employee deserves to have their civil rights respected, and no worker should endure the kind of shameful racial bigotry our investigation revealed,” said Burrows in a written statement. “Today’s lawsuit makes clear that no company is above the law, and the EEOC will vigorously enforce federal civil rights protections to help ensure American workplaces are free from unlawful harassment and retaliation.”
The lawsuit states that racial harassment has been an ongoing problem at the company since at least 2015 until now. Black workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California, manufacturing facilities have endured hearing derogatory terms like the N-word, “monkey,” “boy,” and “black b*tch.” They were also subjected to racial abuse, pervasive stereotyping, and hostility from coworkers. The racial epithets and stereotypes were used casually and openly in high-traffic areas and worker hubs. The Black workers were also confronted with graffiti that included variations of the N-word, swastikas, threats, and nooses. These were seen on desks and other equipment, in bathroom stalls, within elevators, and on new vehicles that came off the production line.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages and back pay for the workers subjected to harassment and retaliation. The EEOC is also looking for injunctive relief designed to reform the company’s employment practices so that such abuse will not happen in the future.
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