Former Tesla Employee Sues Carmaker for Racist Behavior

A former employee with Tesla has filed a harassment complaint against Tesla, calling the electric carmaker’s production floor nothing more than a “hotbed for racist behavior.”

The worker sued the company, claiming he had been fired after he complained to Tesla’s founder Elon Musk. He claims that more than 100 employees at the company experienced racial harassment while working at the company.

In his complaint, the former employee alleged that workers who are black suffer direct and sustained harassment from others. The court document said that although Tesla is considered a groundbreaking company that is the leader in the electric car revolution, it has a standard operating procedure of the pre-Civil Rights era of race discrimination.

One of the worker’s complaints said that supervisors and other employees have used the “N word” and when he filed a complaint with human resources over it, the company fired him for allegedly lacking a positive attitude.

In the complaint, an email is cited that Musk sent to factory employees as saying “part of not being a jerk is considering how a person might feel who is in a group that has historically been less represented.” The email continued by saying sometimes things happen unintentionally, and for that one should apologize and to be fair, if someone was a jerk to you, but apologizes sincerely, what is important is being thick-skinned and accepting the apology.

From anti-gay and physical harassment cases to the firing of an employee who was female and sued the company for sexual harassment, the electric carmaker has been criticized on multiple occasions for fostering a work environment that is negative.

In the most recently filed lawsuit, the former Tesla employee behind the suit has petitioned to sue on the behalf of others that might have also been affected, and is seeking both general as well as punitive damages. The suit is also seeking a new set of policies at the company that prevent any type of harassment to take place in the future.

Tesla has not commented on the lawsuit and Elon Musk said in a recent call with analysts and investors for the company’s earnings that he fired over 700 employees for what he describes as ‘low performance.”

What will be important for this lawsuit is if any other current or former employees at Tesla join the suit like the plaintiff has offered.