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Federal commission backs Black employees in new Tesla suit

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the electric vehicle icon. The Tesla suit alleges the company helmed by Elon Musk is currently engaged in racial harassment and discrimination.

Tesla is well-known for its innovation and modern image but now a federal spotlight is on its workplace culture.

Lawsuit alleges hostility and stereotyping

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, comes following an EEOC investigation into Tesla’s treatment of Black employees.

ABC News reports the lawsui claims that since at least May 29, 2015, Tesla has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It claims Black employees at Tesla’s Fremont, California, manufacturing facilities experienced racial abuse, stereotyping, and hostility, including racial slurs.

Black employees allege they’ve seen both swastikas and nooses at Tesla plant

Reuters reports Black Tesla plant workers have been subjected to racist slurs and graffiti, including swastikas and nooses.

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The Tesla suit claims it violated federal law by “tolerating widespread and ongoing racial harassment of its Black employees and by subjecting some of these workers to retaliation for opposing the harassment,” according to a statement released by the EEOC on Thursday. “The Commission also alleges that Defendant unlawfully retaliated against Black employees who opposed actions they perceived to constitute unlawful employment discrimination.”

ABC News reports the Tesla lawsuit asserts employees who spoke out about the alleged harassment were allegedly retaliated against.

Tesla suit
A worker wearing a face covering exits a Tesla Inc. vehicle at the company’s assembly plant in Fremont, California, U.S. Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla suit alleges unjustified write-ups

Moreover, alleged instances include changes in job duties and schedules, unjustified write-ups, firings and transfers, among other actions.

“Today’s lawsuit makes clear that no company is above the law, and the EEOC will vigorously enforce federal civil rights protections to help ensure American workplaces are free from unlawful harassment and retaliation,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows in a statement on Thursday.

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EEOC says Tesla suit could have been prevented

Further, the EEOC said it looked into Tesla after Burrow submitted a commissioner’s charge alleging that Tesla violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to its alleged treatment of Black employees.

The EEOC stated it tried “to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation” before filing the Tesla suit.

“The allegations in this case are disturbing,” EEOC San Francisco District Office Regional Attorney Roberta L. Steele said in a statement. “No worker should have to endure racial harassment and retaliation to earn a living six decades after the enactment of Title VII.”

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