For Immediate Release: June 4, 2018
Attorneys: Larry Organ, Esq. (415) 453-4740; Bryan Schwartz, Esq. (510) 444-9300
OAKLAND, CA – Late Friday, June 1, 2018, Tesla failed in its motion seeking to compel arbitration in order to stall the race harassment class action lawsuit filed last fall in Alameda County. The lawsuit alleges that standard operating procedure at the futuristic Tesla factory in Fremont, California, is straight from the worst of America’s past: replete with pre-Civil Rights Era-style race discrimination. African-American workers are routinely called “nigger” and “nigga,” and this harassment has only become more widespread since multiple prior individual lawsuits exposed the factory’s racist underbelly.
The suit, filed jointly by two Oakland-based civil rights law firms, California Civil Rights Law Group (CCRLG) and Bryan Schwartz Law, maintains that, despite its knowledge of the harassment, Tesla has done nothing that could be reasonably expected to stop the pattern and practice of racism. Supervisors regularly witness employees engaging in racist name-calling, and engage in such harassment themselves, with no company action to stop them.
The class action states that Tesla’s supervisors, Human Resources and upper management, including CEO Elon Musk, received both verbal and written complaints of race harassment at the Tesla Factory. Typically, though, no action is taken against the harassers, and the harassment continues.
Telsa’s motion seeking to stall the class action urged the Alameda County Superior Court to send the plaintiff, Marcus Vaughn, to arbitration – even though Vaughn never signed an agreement to arbitrate. The court, Hon. Robert McGuiness, invoked the well-known rule that “one must be a party to an arbitration agreement to be bTound by it or invoke it.” Tesla had argued that Vaughn was forced to arbitrate by “equitable estoppel” – essentially, that by working at Tesla, he implicitly agreed to arbitrate. The court rejected the notion.
“Arbitration cannot be absorbed by osmosis,” said Bryan Schwartz, who argued against Tesla’s motion. “Tesla is desperately trying to avoid the truth coming out in this case, so I am glad the court saw through this unsigned arbitration agreement scam,” said Schwartz.
“Tesla should be focused on changing its racist practices – the way it has made other changes to improve its business – rather than tossing up a Hail Mary just to try to bury our lawsuit,” said Larry Organ. “With this lawsuit, we will change how Tesla treats its black employees – whether the company is ready to change, or not,” he added.
The lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court contains Docket No. RG17882082.
About the Plaintiff Marcus Vaughn
Plaintiff Marcus Vaughn began working at the Tesla Factory on April 23, 2017 as a General Assembly Associate. Shortly thereafter, employees and supervisors began targeting him for harassment on the basis of his race, including referring to him as “nigger” and “nigga” on a regular basis. On July 21, 2017, Mr. Vaughn complained in writing to Human Resources and Elon Musk about the hostile work environment. Tesla did not conduct an investigation into Mr. Vaughn’s complaint, nor was he interviewed about his serious allegations of racism at the Tesla Factory. Instead, Tesla terminated Mr. Vaughn on October 31, 2017 for “not having a positive attitude.”
# # #
About California Civil Rights Law Group
The California Civil Rights Law Group, led by prominent trial attorney Larry Organ, is dedicated to furthering the cause of employee civil rights throughout the state. The legal team has made it its priority to provide help to those who need it the most, and specializes in representing plaintiffs in matters involving race, sex and disability harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.
About Bryan Schwartz Law
Bryan Schwartz Law is dedicated to continuing the struggle for civil rights and equality of employment opportunity and helping Americans from every background to achieve their highest career potential. The firm has recovered tens of millions of dollars in individual, class, and collective actions involving discrimination and retaliation, harassment, denied disability accommodations, whistleblower reprisal, wage and hour violations, Federal employees' rights, and severance negotiations.