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They heard racial slurs from their fellow workers and supervisors. They saw racist graffiti on the walls. They spoke up but their voices were unheard. The factory in Fremont, California, where they worked, was nicknamed “the plantation.” This was the life of a Black worker at Tesla’s main factory in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a new civil rights lawsuit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
On Thursday, the state agency that examines civil rights complaints filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s multi-billion dollar electric car company, alleging that the company failed to appropriately respond to complaints by Black workers who faced a barrage of racist abuse and workplace segregation.
In the suit, the details of which became public on Friday, California attorneys characterized Tesla, a company whose jobs have long been seen as a “golden ticket” to stability and whose ethos is defined by its pursuit of a more socially conscious future, as a place “that profits from an army of production workers, many of whom are people of color, working under egregious conditions.” They claimed that Tesla “failed to take effective remedial measures in response to complaints of discrimination and harassment,” noting that workers were discouraged from complaining and that they could face “retaliatory harassment, undesirable assignments, and/or termination.”
The lawsuit follows a three-year investigation by the California agency and numerous other lawsuits filed against Tesla by former workers in the Fremont plant—in October 2021, a federal judge ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to Owen Diaz, a Black Fremont factory contractor who faced racist abuse by his…