The company began the response, released via blog post on its website, by stating it was “absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind. When we hear complaints, we take them very seriously, investigate thoroughly and, if proven to be true, take immediate action.”
Addressing the lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Marcus Vaughn, the company stated it had investigated the “disappointing behavior involving a group of individuals who worked on or near Marcus Vaughn’s team” several months ago, and had fired three of the individuals involved.
Adding further detail to the situation discussed in Vaughn’s lawsuit, Tesla referred to a number of “conflicting accusations and counter-accusations between several African-American and Hispanic individuals, alleging use of racial language, including the ‘n-word’ and ‘w-word,’ as well as the threat of violence towards one another.” The company added that it considered its actions a “fair and just response” to the information it had at the time, and that it would carry out further action where required.
Tesla also noted that the plaintiff in question was employed by a temp agency, not by Tesla, and wasn’t fired but rather saw out the end of his six month contract. The Tesla blog post also discussed Vaughn’s email to CEO Elon Musk, which it said was about “his commute and Tesla’s shuttles” and was addressed as requested. The company said it included “no mention of racial discrimination whatsoever.”
The company called the reference to 100 subjects of racial discrimination “a complete fabrication with no basis in fact at all,” as there is currently only one plaintiff (Marcus Vaughn). Finally, the electric car maker released the email Elon Musk had written to the company at large on May 31 in order to provide context to the comments made in the lawsuit.
On Monday, Vaughn’s lawyer Larry Organ had told Bloomberg that “the law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin” and that “Tesla is not doing enough.” He likened the comments in Musk’s email to being told to “stop being politically correct.”
In the company blog, Telsa referred to Organ as having “a long track record of extorting money for meritless claims” and said that the company “would rather spend more on a trial and clear its name than settle with the plaintiff.”
Tesla highlighted preventative measures it takes to counter racial discrimination in the workplace, such as compulsory anti-discrimination courses, regular in-person spot training sessions upon the submission of an allegation or complaint, as well as a dedicated team that is focused on “investigating workplace concerns, recommending corrective actions and assisting managers with implementing those actions.”
Tesla shares fell 2.1% Tuesday.