A former Tesla (TSLA) employee is seeking an order against harassment at Tesla, calling the company’s production floor a “hotbed for racist behavior.”
The worker filed a suit against the company, claiming he was fired after complaining to Elon Musk, reported Bloomberg
. He claims over 100 employees have experienced racial harassment at the electric car-making company.
In the complaint, the employee alleged black workers at Telsa suffer direct, sustained harassment. “Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination.”
One worker said other employees and supervisors used the “N word” regularly and when he submitted a complaint to human resources about it, he was fired for “not having a positive attitude.” The complaint notes an email sent by Elon Musk to Tesla factory employees cited by Bloomberg as saying, “Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group. Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”
From physical and anti-gay harassment cases, to firing a female employee who sued for sexual harassment, Tesla has come under fire multiple times for fostering a negative work environment. In this most recent lawsuit, the employee responsible is petitioning to sue on behalf of the others that may have been affected, and is seeking general and punitive damages, as well as a new set of company policies to prevent harassment.
Elon Musk had said in a recent earnings call that he had fired some 700 employees for what he called ‘low performance’.
Tesla on Tuesday vigorously pushed back against the allegations
, saying that it had investigated “a number of conflicting accusations and counter-accusations between several African-American and Hispanic individuals, alleging use of racial language.” It said that it had terminated three individuals as a result. It also noted that Vaughn was not fired as such, because he was on a “fixed-term contract that was not renewed.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include reaction from Tesla.