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Tesla Factory, East San Francisco bay area, CA. (Photo: Sundry Photography, Shutterstock)

Tesla Files To Halt DFEH Discrimination Lawsuit

If granted, case would be halted for four months

By Evan Symon, April 19, 2022 3:54 pm

Electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla filed a motion in the Alameda County Superior Court on Monday to halt a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company for 120 days.

In February, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Tesla for alleged racial discrimination against black workers at the Tesla Fremont factory. The DFEH said that they had received hundreds of such complaints, including workers being called racial slurs without corrective measures, pay discrimination, prevention of black workers promoted, and other forms of racial discrimination. One black worker told in a complaint that they were called racial slurs 50 to 100 times a day, with others saying that managers and supervisors even joined in or witnessed it happening to workers and didn’t do anything about it. Racist graffiti was also allegedly seen by workers on a daily basis. Due to the company’s policy of workers being contractually obligated to going to closed-door arbitration instead of court, few cases have come up against Tesla since the factory opened in 2010.

“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment,”  said DFEH Director Kevin Kish in a statement in February. “For many Black and/or African American workers, the stress from the severe and pervasive racial harassment, the risk of a physical altercation and escalation with harassers, the blatant discrimination, the disproportionately severe discipline, and the futility of complaining, made the working conditions so intolerable that they resigned.”

Over the next few months, the case progressed, with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) starting an investigation against Tesla over those allegations. However, Tesla, in its own findings, began to gather enough evidence finding multiple things wrong with the DFEH’s suit and investigation.

Tesla alleges a “bare bones investigation” by the DFEH

In their filing on Monday, Tesla says that the DFEH conducted a “bare bones investigation” before filing their lawsuit in February, noting that the DFEH may have rushed to file their lawsuit because of a “turf war” with the EEOC. Tesla alleges that the rushing of the suit led the DFEH to not share most of the worker complaints with Tesla until after the suit was filed. In addition, the company says that the DFEH violated Californian law that requires the DFEH to take certain steps before suing a company.

Tesla hopes to pause the suit for 120 days, or roughly four months, to not only have the DFEH properly investigate the claims, but also give Tesla a chance to settle the suit out of court.

While the EEOC and DFEH did not comment on Tesla’s motion on Tuesday, many observers noted that the case against Tesla did come up quickly during a time where California and the EEOC had clashed on court decisions, including the DFEH failing to block an $18 million settlement between video game maker Activision and the EEOC over multiple sexual harassment and discriminations practices that the agency said could harm their own lawsuit against the company.

“Tesla is trying to get a four month stay in a very intelligent way,” explained California employment lawyer Jim Keeler to the Globe on Tuesday. “They’re bringing to light how the DFEH and EEOC are going after the same cases, which can cause problems, as well as tacking on everything from the DFEH violating their own procedures to them saying they rushed this. Plus, now they might have a way to settle this out of court now.”

“There is no guilt at this time, only accusations, but companies that push to settle usually don’t want these cases dragging out and don’t want any embarrassing or damaging information out there. Any large company would have tried something like this.”

The Oakland judge is likely to rule on granting a pause to the suit in the coming weeks.

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2 thoughts on “Tesla Files To Halt DFEH Discrimination Lawsuit

  1. Did Monterey County also sued Tesla maybe I should get together with Tesla because Monterey County is hungry for money because they’re abusing Taxpayers money because there hiding many secrets also and I got there secret but I’m not scared of Monterey County what else can they do to me they stripped me of all my Civil Rights

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