Bloomberg, November 13, 2017
By Dana Hull
Employee claims he was fired after complaining to Elon Musk
Workers seek order for Tesla to stop and prevent harassment
Tesla Inc.’s production floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” more than 100 African-American employees claimed in a lawsuit in which they alleged black workers at the electric carmaker suffer severe and pervasive harassment.
The employees are seeking permission from a judge to sue as a group and are seeking unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment.
“Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination,” the employees said in the complaint, filed Monday in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.
Tesla has roughly 33,000 employees globally but has never publicly released its diversity statistics. More than 10,000 employees work at its sole auto assembly plant in Fremont, California, where the United Auto Workers have launched a campaign to convince workers to join the union. On Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk acknowledged that the company recently fired about 700 workers for low performance.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the “N word” around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for “not having a positive attitude.”
Tesla didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Larry Organ, an attorney at the California Civil Rights Law Group, said that Vaughn reached out to him after the law firm sued Tesla on behalf of other African American employees who complained about racial harassment this year.
According to the complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla factory employees on May 31.
“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in the email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”
“The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin,” Organ said in an interview Monday. “Tesla is not doing enough. It’s somewhat akin to saying ‘stop being politically correct.’ When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce.”
The case is Vaughn v. Tesla Inc., Superior Court of the State of California (County of Alameda).
When no other attorney would touch my case, Bryan took it on with zeal. Since then, the EEOC certified a class action and has ruled in our favor in every motion the other side has thrown at us. A five-star rating does not come close…
I was fortunate to have found Bryan Schwartz Law while searching for reputable and reliable law firms in the Oakland area that specialized in labor law, and I couldn’t be more pleased by the results they secured for my family on my father’s behalf! After…
Bryan's firm came highly recommended to deal with an employment discrimination and harassment case. Bryan and his staff were very professional, ethical, extremely organized and diligent. They are strong advocates who worked extremely hard to get me a very fair resolution to my case. I…
Bryan Schwartz is an attorney who gives good, sound advice and empowers you to believe in your convictions. I reached out to him because no other attorney wanted to assist me. Bryan has been my advocate for the last six years. He is compassionate, empathetic…
Bryan Schwartz is without a doubt a fantastic attorney. As tenacious as he is intelligent, I would absolutely recommend his services to anyone seeking justice. Not only is his legal expertise top notch, his interpersonal skills with his clients are superb as well. Working with…
Bryan and his team were highly recommended by a friend and another attorney. I reached out to Bryan when I was sick, hurting and afraid, not knowing what to expect or how to ask for help. Bryan offered to help, he and his team fought…
When I first met Bryan, and the team at Bryan Schwartz Law, I was blown away by how understanding, sympathetic, and outright dismayed they were to the unlawful situation my coworkers and I were (to say the least) uncomfortably having to endure and work through.…
Bryan Schwartz represented me successfully in mediating my age discrimination claim against a large employer....[T]here can be few lawyers with greater legal acumen or a more relentless drive to get an acceptable result for their clients. Bryan is all business and probably works too hard.…
I could never imagine having any other attorney on my side when I needed someone. This office is beyond professional and intelligent from the person answering the phone right to the attorneys. These attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you.
These guys were amazing. Just on the ball, knowledgeable and friendly as hell. I presented my case over the phone and I immediately got some preliminary feedback which was awesome. I was asked for more details which I provided via email the next day. Two…
Schedule an initial consultation to have Bryan Schwartz Law
evaluate your situation.
*Your submission of an intake request form does not guarantee that Bryan Schwartz Law will take your case or provide legal advice. You must be offered and sign a representation agreement with the firm before you will receive any legal advice.
How did we do?
Note: Your review may be shared publicly.