Tesla has quickly grown to become one of the most recognizable automotive brands in the country and even the world. For many, a Tesla is a status symbol. These vehicles combine the attractiveness of sports cars with eco-friendly technology that ideally minimizes a driver’s carbon footprint.
Behind the scenes, however, Tesla employees may not be treated fairly depending on their race. 15 African-American Tesla employees, including current and former employees, recently filed a lawsuit in California against Tesla. The plaintiffs allege that they were subject to racial harassment and unfair treatment while working in Tesla’s factories.
The forms that this alleged harassment and discrimination has taken include the usage of racist terms. The plaintiffs also allege that they have been subject to racist comments in the workplace. The lawsuit additionally states that African-American employees of Tesla have regularly been assigned more physically demanding tasks than the tasks assigned to their non-African-American coworkers. The lawsuit goes so far as to assert that Tesla’s “standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination.”
Other complaints referenced in the lawsuit relate to the manner in which some African-American Tesla employees have been treated in apparent response to their usage of time off to which they were entitled. For example, the lawsuit claims that a production assistant at Tesla’s Fremont factory was promptly demoted upon their return to work after taking a leave of absence that had been authorized due to the employee contracting COVID-19.
None of this is meant to suggest that there is undeniable proof that Tesla consistently engages in racial discrimination. Although it is absolutely important to take such complaints seriously, this case is yet to be resolved as of this writing. Therefore, it would be unethical and inappropriate to conclude one way or the other regarding the legitimacy of this complaint. While it would also be wrong to dismiss the concerns of multiple employees, it is simply impossible to determine with any degree of certainty at this stage whether or not accusations of racial discrimination at Tesla are rooted in fact.
Regardless, such stories remind us that racial discrimination in the workplace continues to occur across a range of industries. Tesla may be a household name, but racial discrimination can also occur in small businesses and niche organizations. Instances of racial discrimination in the workplace are less likely to receive media attention when they occur at companies and organizations the public is less familiar with.
The fact that an employer’s racially discriminatory acts or policies are not covered in the media does not mean employees affected by them shouldn’t be compensated accordingly. If you are a worker in California and believe your employer has engaged in some form of racial discrimination, review your case with a Sherman Oaks employment law attorney at Licata & Yeremenko, A Professional Law Corporation. If it appears you have a valid case, we will fight aggressively to help you hold your employer accountable. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at 818-783-5757 to schedule a consultation.