Fifteen Black former or current employees at Tesla 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 behaviour 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 car maker’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 authorised leave of absence as a result contracting COVID-19.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment.
It previously has denied wrongdoing and said 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 $15m 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.