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Tesla must face racism class action from 6,000 Black workers, judge rules



Tesla must face a class-action lawsuit from nearly 6,000 Black people who allege that they faced discrimination and harassment while working at the company’s Fremont factory, a California judge ruled.

The tentative ruling from Alameda County Superior Court “certifies a class defined as the specific approximately 5,977 persons self-identified as Black/African-American who worked at Tesla during the class period from November 9, 2016, through the date of the entry of this order to prosecute the claims in the complaint.”

The tentative ruling was issued Tuesday by Judge Noël Wise. Tesla can contest the ruling at a hearing on Friday, but tentative rulings are generally finalized without major changes.

The case started years ago. An amended complaint in 2017 alleged that Tesla “created an intimidating, hostile, and offensive work environment for Black and/or African-American employees that includes a routine use of the terms ‘N****r’ and ‘N***a’ and other racially derogatory terms, and racist treatment and images at Tesla’s production facility in Fremont, California.”

The plaintiffs’ motion was not approved in its entirety. A request for class certification was denied for all people who are not on the list of class members.


However, plaintiffs will have five days to provide an updated list of class members. Anyone not on the list “may if they wish seek individual remedies through filing civil actions, through arbitration, or otherwise,” the ruling said.

Plaintiffs “heard the n-word” at factory

A class-action trial is scheduled to begin on October 14, 2024, the same day as a separate case against Tesla brought by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD).

As Wise’s ruling noted, “The CRD has filed and is pursuing a parallel law enforcement action that is alleging a pattern and practice of failing to prevent discrimination and harassment and seeking an injunction that would require Tesla to institute policies and procedures that will do a better job of preventing and redressing discrimination and harassment at Tesla. The EEOC [US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] has filed a similar action.”

In the class action, plaintiffs submitted “declarations from 240 persons who stated that they observed discrimination or harassment at the Tesla Fremont facility and that some complained about it,” Wise wrote. “Of the 240 plaintiff declarations, all stated that they heard the n-word at the Tesla Fremont facility, 112 state that they complained to a supervisor, manager or HR about discrimination, but only 16 made written complaints.”

Tesla submitted declarations from 228 people “who generally stated that they did not observe discrimination or harassment at the Tesla Fremont facility or that if they observed it then Tesla took ‘immediate and appropriate corrective action,’” Wise wrote.

Tesla also said it “created a centralized internal tracking system to document complaints and investigations” in 2017 and will rely on this database “to demonstrate that Tesla was aware of complaints about race discrimination and harassment and how it responded to the complaints.”


Source: Ars Technica

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