On Tuesday, a California judge issued a tentative ruling denying Tesla’s motion to dismiss a racial discrimination suit filed by the state’s Department of Civil Rights (DCR), which alleged that Black workers are being subjected to a hostile work environment in the electric vehicle maker’s Fremont Factory.
Tesla’s legal team had argued that the DCR’s case should be dismissed because the agency did not follow proper protocol in its alleged investigations. The DCR had accused Tesla of operating a racially segregated workplace, where Black employees were subjected to verbal harassment and unequal pay, among others.
That being said, Tesla may still find some footing in its efforts to challenge the DCR’s racial discrimination suit. Citing a source familiar with the matter, TechCrunch noted that California Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo had imposed a one-year statute of limitation on the agency. This, according to the publication’s source, sets a rather high bar for the DCR to show and prove that there is indeed a pervading culture of racism at the Fremont plant.
It should be noted that back in June, Judge Grillo informed Tesla that it could pursue its claims against the DCR. However, he also noted that staying the lawsuit would be inappropriate.
Proving the DCR’s allegations against Tesla could be tricky, especially as the EV maker, in a blog post earlier this year, claimed that the DCR had investigated the company on almost 50 occasions over the years, and each time, no misconduct was found against Tesla.
“Over the past five years, the DFEH has been asked on almost 50 occasions by individuals who believe they were discriminated against or harassed to investigate Tesla. On every single occasion, when the DFEH closed an investigation, it did not find misconduct against Tesla. It therefore strains credibility for the agency to now allege, after a three-year investigation, that systematic racial discrimination and harassment somehow existed at Tesla. A narrative spun by the DFEH and a handful of plaintiff firms to generate publicity is not factual proof,” Tesla noted.
The DCR’s lawsuit is not the only racial discrimination case that has been filed against Tesla. Back in 2017, ex-factory worker Marcus Vaughn filed a class-action suit against the company because he was allegedly called the “n-word” by managers and his colleagues. Former operator Owen Diaz also sued the company for alleged racial discrimination, and his case made headlines after the jury gave Tesla a $137 million penalty. The amount has since been reduced to $15 million, an amount that Diaz rejected.
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