Tesla has filed a complaint against the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), accusing the agencies of rushing to file lawsuits against companies without conducting investigations.
Tesla’s ten-page complaint was first seen by Reuters and stated that the OAL and the DFEH have adopted “clandestine regulations” that disregard the basic requirements that must be met in order for lawsuits to be filed in a justified manner. Tesla was accused in February of operating a racially segregated workplace at its Fremont, Northern California plant, where African-American employees were harassed, discriminated against and faced constant racial attacks on a daily basis.
DFEH’s case against Tesla has been dropped and its allegations are very, very serious
Tesla’s filing on Tuesday aims to challenge the DFEH’s lawsuit, claiming the agency violated California laws by not first notifying the automaker of its claims or giving it a chance to resolve before submitting the case. Tesla posted a blog several days before the lawsuit was published refuting the allegations, but DFEH details showed the allegations were incredibly serious.
The DFEH lawsuit claimed:
“As early as 2012, black and/or African-American workers at Tesla complained that Tesla production leaders, supervisors and managers constantly used the word ne and other racial slurs to refer to black workers. They complained that swastikas, “KKK”, the n-word, and other racist writing are etched on the walls of bathrooms, toilet stalls, lunch tables and even factory machinery. They complained that black and/or African-American workers are assigned to more physically demanding positions and lower-level contract roles, are paid less and are fired more often than other workers. ”
In October, a former Fremont plant employee, Owen Diaz, was paid $137 million after suffering racial abuse while working at the plant from 2015 to 2016. Tesla disputed the payment, which was eventually reduced to $15 million. However, it is just one of many allegations of racial abuse at the factory.
In response to the DFEH lawsuit, Tesla stated:
“Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team whose work is featured in this public report. Tesla has always disciplined and fired employees who have engaged in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways. We recently launched an additional training program that reinforces Tesla’s requirement that all employees treat each other with respect and reminds employees of the various ways to report concerns, including anonymously. Above all, Tesla continues to seek to provide a safe, respectful, fair and inclusive workplace – all of which are vital to achieving our mission.”
Tesla urged judges in April to pause the DFEH process, as the agency “has been asked on nearly 50 occasions by individuals who believe they have been discriminated against or harassed to investigate Tesla,” the automaker said. “on every occasion, when the DFEH closed an investigation, it found no misconduct against Tesla. It therefore undermines the agency’s credibility to now claim, after a three-year investigation, that systematic racial discrimination and harassment somehow existed at Tesla. A narrative made by the DFEH and a handful of companies claiming to generate publicity is not factual evidence,” Tesla wrote.