(CALMATTERS) – In the latest sign of bad blood between California and Tesla, the state’s civil rights regulator sued the electric-car maker late Wednesday night, alleging that “Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay and promotion.”
- The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said its lawsuit was sparked by hundreds of worker complaints, including one from a Black employee who heard racial slurs as often as 50 to 100 times a day and others who said workers flashed Confederate flag tattoos as a means of intimidation. The department said other complaints alleged that “swastikas, ‘KKK,’ the n-word and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables and even factory machinery.”
- Tesla, in a blog post published before the lawsuit was filed, said it will ask the court to pause the case. It also slammed the state for “attacking a company like Tesla that has done so much good for California,” noting that the Fremont factory “has a majority-minority workforce and provides the best paying jobs in the automotive industry to over 30,000 Californians.”
- The lawsuit marks yet another rift between California and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who early on in the pandemic defied COVID lockdown rules to keep the Fremont factory open and later moved himself and the company’s headquarters to Texas.
News of the lawsuit came the same day as reports that California in 2021 became the first state to register more than a million electric and plug-in hybrid cars — and the federal government’s announcement that California is eligible for nearly $384 million in electric vehicle infrastructure funding over the next five years.