By on December 4, 2018

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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12 Comments on “Tesla Faces Claims of Racism in NYT Report...”

  • avatar

    Just like me too women. What a slimy way to get money

  • avatar

    Looks like the NYT has found a new kicking boy when it’s a light Trump news cycle (which is pretty rare).

    Tesla doesn’t help themselves, the PR team should be escorted out of the building, recently they jumped on a report about lower European deliveries, but offered up no tangible evidence to the contrary.

    Do what the SEC mandated, get EM off Twitter, maybe kick out a few SR Model 3s for the heck of it. If they are planning EU deliveries in Q1 2019, that will be a tremendous balancing act with respect to cash management. Stop alluding to what is around the corner (Y, Semi, pickup truck, China GF shipping Model 3s in 2019, etc.).

    Stop talking about “burst rates”, just be quiet and execute. I drive past the local dealers holding lot, and it keeps getting bigger and bigger, all models (the Performance Model 3s are certainly growing faster).

    But having said that, maybe there are buyers out there for those models. I just wish the company would grow up and act like a company with a $60 billion market cap. It might serve them well to not be a part of the daily news cycle.

  • avatar

    In a company of over 40,000 people, a couple dozen complaints doesn’t show a “pattern of racial harassment.” Even if every single complaint is true, which is unlikely, such a low volume of complaints shows that Tesla is doing a good job.

  • avatar

    Any factory with 10k people is bound to be an amalgam of the surrounding area. And despite the enlightened image of California elites, my guess is there’s plenty of racism and prejudice to be found in the blue collar / first level management ranks. It’s impossible to screen out or re-educate every one of them when you’re scrambling to turn out cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FWD Donuts

      Well said. I worked in a manufacturing plant while attending college. There were characters of all kinds in there. Racists. Criminals. The works. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area loves to maintain its holier than thou image.

  • avatar

    Typical anti-Tesla propaganda by left leaning press. Thats why I never read NYT (on Google news).

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

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