© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Tesla logo is seen in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo
(Editor’s note: Paragraph 3 contains offensive racial language)
By Hyunjoo Jin
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Fifteen Black former or current employees at Tesla (NASDAQ:) filed a lawsuit against the electric car maker on Thursday, alleging they were subjected to racial abuse and harassment at its factories.
The workers said they were subjected to offensive racist comments and behavior by colleagues, managers, and human resources employees on a regular basis, according to the lawsuit filed in a California state court.
The harassment, which occurred mostly at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory, included using the terms “nigger”, “slavery” or “plantation” or making sexual comments such as “likes booty,” the lawsuit said, adding that the automaker’s “standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination”.
Some of the plaintiffs were assigned to the most physically demanding posts in Tesla or passed over for promotion, according to the lawsuit.
It said that Montieco Justice, a production associate at Tesla’s Fremont factory, was immediately demoted upon returning to Tesla after taking an authorized leave of absence as a result contracting COVID-19.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The automaker is facing at least 10 lawsuits alleging widespread race discrimination or sexual harassment, including one by a California civil rights agency.
It previously has denied wrongdoing and says it has policies in place to prevent and address workplace misconduct.
On Monday, a federal judge in California ordered a new trial on the damages Tesla owes to a Black former factory worker who accused the company of race discrimination, after he turned down a $15 million award.
This month, a Tesla shareholder filed a lawsuit accusing CEO Elon Musk and the company’s board of directors of neglecting worker complaints and fostering a toxic workplace culture.