Tesla Faces Claims of Racism in NYT Report

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
tesla faces claims of racism in em nyt em report

A New York Times report published on Friday features claims by African-American workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California plant that they were racially harassed.

The Times pieces together a combination of interviews, internal communications, and sworn legal statements from over two dozen current or former Tesla workers. Alleged incidents listed in the reporting include a crude, racist drawing; the use of racial slurs; the drawing of swastikas; and African-American employees being assigned to menial tasks due to their race.

Tesla, of course, denies that there is any pattern of racial harassment while acknowledging to the Times that in a large plant there may be a few bad apples.

The Times piece is a long read, and Tesla claims several of the complainants had performance issues. The claimants dispute this.

A lawsuit filed last year accusing the company of racial discrimination and harassment is seeking class-action status. That suit was filed in California Superior Court. Tesla is seeking to get that case placed in arbitration, where workers would have to file individually instead of with joint claims.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has issued 10 “right to sue” letters. These letters are a prerequisite for a discrimination lawsuit, and the department says each is for an employee complaining of racial bias. There are dozens of other complaints pending against the company, according to the department, but it would not tell the NYT how many involved race.

One complainant declined a settlement offer. This employee even sent cell-phone video to management as evidence.

Other African-American employees, mostly in managerial roles, said their experiences at Tesla were much more positive.

Whether there’s a pervasive culture of racism at Tesla, or these incidents are outliers (if true), it seems we’ll know more in the coming days as legal filings occur and documents become available via public records or media leaks.

The only thing that’s clear is that Tesla can’t avoid the spotlight.

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  • Hummer Hummer on Dec 04, 2018

    What's the CEOs thoughts, he is an African American after all.

  • Gtem Gtem on Dec 05, 2018

    Last year my wife's uncle almost got into a big mess at the factory where he worked because a very unpleasant and lazy (african american) coworker accused him of threatening him with racial slurs and violence after the two of them got into an argument on the line. If it weren't for several other coworkers that were right there and called the guy's bluff to management, the uncle probably would have gotten let go. HR refused to in turn fire that guy, it would have been too messy and in all likelihood they would have gotten sued on grounds of discrimination. Instead they just let the guy accumulate enough missed days and tardiness to let him go on those grounds a month or two later. A pretty sad state of affairs.

  • Theflyersfan As a kid, a neighbor had one of these full-sized conversion vans with the TV and wet bar in the back. And it was so cool to go in - as a kid it was, driving it had to be terror at times with blind spots, iffy power and brakes, and the feeling that you're hauling your living room with you! Kids of the 1970s and 1980s had this experience. Afterwards with minivans and then CUV everything, not so much.And I'm crushed that a 1977 van doesn't have some kind of mural on the sides. Coyote howling at the moon, American flag, Confederate flag, bright stripes, something! You can't have a 1970's era van with plain sides! At least a "Don't Laugh. Your daughter's in here" bumper sticker on the back. I always get a Gacy or Bundy vibe with these vans...
  • Jeff S In the EV market Tesla is not a niche player it is the major player. According to the latest data of the California-based vehicle valuation and automotive research company  Kelley Blue Book, Tesla has the lion’s share with 75 percent market share in  the electric vehicle market in the first three months of 2022.Tesla has dominated the electric vehicle market for years in the United States. The electric vehicles manufactured by Tesla accounted for 79 percent of the new electric vehicles registered in the United States in 2020 and 69,95 percent in 2021. The decrease in the market share in 2021 might be explained by backlogs and the global chip shortage, but the company is ramping up its sales and has already increased its market share to 75 percent in the first quarter of the year. According to Kelley Blue Book, the top 10 EVs sold in the US in the first quarter of 2022 are;[list=1][*]Tesla Model Y[/*][*]Tesla Model 3[/*][*]Ford Mustang Mach-E[/*][*]Tesla Model X[/*][*]Hyundai Ioniq 5[/*][*]Kia EV6[/*][*]Tesla Model S[/*][*]Nissan Leaf[/*][*]Kia Niro[/*][*]Audi e-Tron[/*][/list=1]Tesla has delivered 310,048 vehicles in the first quarter of 2022, another first-quarter record. The success of Tesla is proven once again as the company has three electric cars in the top 10 most selling electric vehicles in the United States, while no other manufacturer has even two different models on the list.Tesla leads all others, selling slightly over 936,000 units in 2021. This gave the company a market share of nearly 14%.Mar 30, 2022https://interestingengineering.com/transportation/tesla-ev-market-75-percent-market-share
  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.