A California agency is suing Tesla Inc. over allegations of “systematic racial discrimination and harassment” at the auto maker’s plant in Fremont, Calif., an action the company has called “misguided.”
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit late Wednesday in state court, saying that after receiving “hundreds of complaints from workers,” it found evidence that Black workers at the factory, which is Tesla’s main U.S. plant, are “subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment.”
Tesla had criticized the department’s decision ahead of the lawsuit, saying in a blog post that during a three-year investigation the DFEH “has never once raised any concern about current workplace practices at Tesla.”
said it would ask the courts to halt the case “and take other steps to ensure that facts and evidence will be heard.” Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.
Tesla has been sued by a number of past and present employees alleging discrimination, unsafe work conditions, and other complaints, which are not uncommon in larger companies. Chief Executive Elon Musk and other Tesla executives often praise its factories as some of the safest.
Tesla last year moved headquarters from Palo Alto, Calif., to Austin, Texas, following disagreements with state and local authorities over related factory shutdowns early on in the pandemic.
Tesla shares traded 1% lower on Thursday, and are holding on to a 15% advance in the past 12 months. That compares with gains of around 16% for the S&P 500 index.