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The Courts Businesses

Tesla Faces Lawsuit For Racial Harassment In Its Factories (mercurynews.com) 151

Three former Tesla factory workers have filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming they were subject to constant racial discrimination and harassment in the electric car company's factories. "The men, who are African-American, claim in a new complaint filed Monday in state court that Tesla supervisors and workers used racial epithets and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes," reports The Mercury News. From the report: The new suit is the second by black employees charging Tesla failed to address racial antagonism at its factory. The electric vehicle maker also has a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board over claims it illegally tried to silence workers promoting a union. The complaints come as the Tesla heads into a crucial ramp-up of Model 3 production, its lower-cost electric vehicle. A Tesla spokesman denied the suit's allegations and said the men never raised the complaints to the company during their brief time at the plant. "Given our size, we recognize that unfortunately at times there will be cases of harassment or discrimination in corners of the company," the spokesman said. "From what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case." The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, claims Owen Diaz and his son, Demetric, were called the N-word while they worked at the Fremont factory, and supervisors did little to stop it. A third man, Lamar Patterson, also claims he was subjected to insensitive racist remarks.
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Tesla Faces Lawsuit For Racial Harassment In Its Factories

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  • Unacceptable (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 )
    In present times, being subjected to racial epithets is totally unacceptable. The fact that Tesla did little or nothing to address or curb this behavior is astounding so they will have to pay the piper for what they failed to do. Tesla assumes the ultimate responsibility for making its employees conform with a code of conduct that prevents discrimination in the workplace and did not do so. It is a shame that we live in times where people on the far right and hate groups are becoming emboldened because of th
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... at any time. It's stupid. Never was anything but.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This did not suddenly change because Trump is in office. This has happened under Obama, Bush, and Clinton. All three of which, I would wager, could have done more. So while I agree, this is astounding that its 2017 and we still face this problem.. this is not the time to soapbox about why Trump is not a good president. If you want to really address the problem, ask why your elected representatives in congress have done little to nothing to fix the problem even though most of them have been in office sin

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're more right then you know. They are complaining about stuff that happened in 2015. It LITERALLY happened under Obama.

    • Re:Unacceptable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @04:37PM (#55392697) Journal

      being subjected to racial epithets / The fact that Tesla did little or nothing to address or curb this behavior

      Are these facts, or is someone looking for a payday? If there has been a formal complaint that got ignored, there'd be a pretty clear case. If the harassment actually happened but no formal complaint was made for whatever reason, then it comes down (or should come down) to what the law says about what exactly Tesla's obligations are in having an appropriate code of conduct and making sure it is being followed. No idea what US law has to say about that to be honest... But the point is that Tesla ought to be judged on facts, not claims or hearsay.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Most likely they're union organizers trying to stir up outrage
      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
        File a complaint? This does nothing but tell them that you are a problem employee and possibly unprofitable to the company. Why do you think they just laid off 1% of their workforce [slashdot.org]?
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Were they all minorities and made complaints about racial discrimination? If so its a obvious verdict. The law is clear and judges in America are not afraid to enforce it. You cannot take disciplinary action on employees for making legitimate harassment and discrimination complaints. If what you suggest is true, I suspect Tesla will be hit with a massive lawsuit but since I think you are just making bull shit up they probably won't.

      • Re:Unacceptable (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @05:23PM (#55392957) Journal

        If there has been a formal complaint that got ignored, there'd be a pretty clear case.

        From TFA:

        Demetric Diaz complained about the regular use of epithets to the staffing agency and another supervisor, the suit said. The supervisor told him he was just a replaceable temporary worker. Diaz was dismissed less than a week later in October 2015.

        Owen Diaz continued to work as an elevator operator. But over time, the suit claimed, the harassment grew worse. A co-worker regularly used the N-word. Diaz found an offensive “pickaninny” cartoon with the caption “Boo!” drawn on a bale of cardboard.

        Owen Diaz also got into a heated argument with the supervisor who drew the cartoon, the suit said. He complained about the incident, and started to receive poor work evaluations. Diaz left Tesla around May 2016.

        I'm not sure what you definition is of a "formal" complaint, but the employees own stories indicate that supervisors were aware of the harassment, and even took part in it. This despite the complaints to other supervisors and the employment agency.

        Missing in all of this is Tesla's policy for reporting such behavior in a way that it does not jeopardize the reporter's position in the company. Anyone care to share that?

        Even so, it seems implausible that nobody in middle management or upwards knew this was going on.

        • Middle and upper management is always clueless, itâ(TM)s how they keep in that place. If the middle managers admitted being aware they would be responsible.

        • It suffice that the lower management is complicit and do not carry the information up (which seem to be the case here). After all discipline is often seen as the lower level management job, herd the cats, while the middle management often see themselves as the planner strategist and not responsible for discipline - from my own experience - and the staff has relatively few bar no contact with middle/high level management. If the lower management stops your complaint.... Then the higher echelon never get a wo
          • Eh. The higher layers of management are paid more for having more responsibility. If they don't have a good handle on what's going on in their department and it's problems then they have failed in their job as a manager.

        • I'm not sure what you definition is of a "formal" complaint

          I'm sure that fits the definition of the formal complaint, but that does not fit the definition of a fact.
          Also from TFA:

          The company received a complaint from Owen Diaz in October 2015 about a belligerent co-worker. But, the company said, “that email made no mention of the use of any racist language or epithets.”

          He said / She said is the reason we have a court system. Tesla should be judged *after* the courts had their say, not when some dude goes to some news site which publishes some random story.

          • Going further on your comment, if there's an email it can be discovered under subpoena. If there's a formal complaint to HR, it can be discovered for trial.

            These things are usually cut-and-dried: there's a company policy about this kind of shit, and if the employee files a complaint it's on file. The employee should have also kept some record of making the complaint if they are smart. If the management didn't take any action according to the policy (discipline, training, termination of the offender), th

        • If there has been a formal complaint that got ignored, there'd be a pretty clear case.

          From TFA:

          Demetric Diaz complained about the regular use of epithets to the staffing agency and another supervisor, the suit said. The supervisor told him he was just a replaceable temporary worker. Diaz was dismissed less than a week later in October 2015.

          Owen Diaz continued to work as an elevator operator. But over time, the suit claimed, the harassment grew worse. A co-worker regularly used the N-word. Diaz found an offensive “pickaninny” cartoon with the caption “Boo!” drawn on a bale of cardboard.

          Owen Diaz also got into a heated argument with the supervisor who drew the cartoon, the suit said. He complained about the incident, and started to receive poor work evaluations. Diaz left Tesla around May 2016.

          I'm not sure what you definition is of a "formal" complaint, but the employees own stories indicate that supervisors were aware of the harassment, and even took part in it. This despite the complaints to other supervisors and the employment agency.

          Missing in all of this is Tesla's policy for reporting such behavior in a way that it does not jeopardize the reporter's position in the company. Anyone care to share that?

          Even so, it seems implausible that nobody in middle management or upwards knew this was going on.

          I remember when this kind of shit happened to my father and I when we worked at a factory in Burbank (when I was working to make ends meet while trying to get into college). The snarks, the racial remarks, the shit thrown to your face from afar, but no one knew who, the offensive pieces of papers left in the assembly lines for us to pick.

          In the case of Tesla, if supervisors were aware of it, and if employers actually complained directly to them, multiple times, that's all the "formality" needed.

          Though

      • Are these facts, or is someone looking for a payday? If there has been a formal complaint that got ignored, there'd be a pretty clear case. If the harassment actually happened but no formal complaint was made for whatever reason, then it comes down (or should come down) to what the law says about what exactly Tesla's obligations are in having an appropriate code of conduct and making sure it is being followed. No idea what US law has to say about that to be honest... But the point is that Tesla ought to be judged on facts, not claims or hearsay.

        Those are the questions. None here have any facts to work with, so its hard to get offended. If this accused racist and demeaning treatment was as common as claimed, I would expect there would be other employees that could and would be will to corroborate it. That's something investigations will likely delve into. Until then the only thing we know is that some of the recently dismissed employees are making claims.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        > Are these facts, or is someone looking for a payday?

        Neither. It's the Russian agents. Dividing America, in an effort to further alienate Americans from each other, and then take away your freedom without resisting. After that they'll just go home and laugh, loudly, as they've achieved their purpose in this life.

      • The article did say that they complained to the staffing agencies and to another supervisor. I know that, even informally, supervisors have an obligation to follow through on such complaints. It's a his-word-against-theirs type scenario, but if whatever legal black magic it takes to prove this turns out to be true, then I think that it's only fair that Tesla should be compensating these people in that case.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We'll see. They may lose in court and I hope so if this happened. But, I'd be stunned if the public doesn't choose to just overlook this because so many idolize Musk. I'd be surprised if there is even one person who was going to buy a Tesla, but won't now because of this. Our values tend to go right out the door, or more accurately , exposed for what they really are, when we have to make a choice.

    • by galabar ( 518411 )
      Agreed, but how much is that worth, monetarily speaking?
    • You have obviously never worked with Asian people. If you want to hear racism, learn a bit of Chinese or Hindi.

      The thing is any people in any group will do it at some level. There are gradations of it but youâ(TM)ll see it anywhere.

      The French are also really good at it, while Germans donâ(TM)t say it as much as act upon it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You have obviously never worked with Asian people. If you want to hear racism, learn a bit of Chinese or Hindi.

        I know some Mandarin, and the worst I have heard is "heiren" which just means "black person". But what is often surprising to Americans is the total lack of "political correctness" in China. They will come right out and say "I don't like black people" even to strangers. I remember seeing this commercial [youtube.com] when I lived in Shanghai. I thought it was hilariously offensive, but Chinese people didn't see anything wrong with it.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          And based on that commercial you can see that "racism", on both the giving and receiving ends of the equation is just what society says is acceptable.

          What I meant is that in Asian societies, what we call "racist" is acceptable. If you had a universal translator in Chinese groups working within the US, many, many people would be grossly offended. Even within Asian subcultures you'll see Japanese, Koreans and Chinese dislike each other based on the color of their skin and they see nothing wrong with it, hell,

          • by skam240 ( 789197 )

            "And based on that commercial you can see that "racism", on both the giving and receiving ends of the equation is just what society says is acceptable."

            And where is your evidence that black people found that add not offensive? Seems like your entire comment is based on a fantasy scenario where minorities don't mind being diminished because of the color of their skin, which I think is complete fucking bullshit. How would you like your skin color to be labeled "dirty"?

            • by guruevi ( 827432 )

              Black people - in America - found it offensive. Apparently no asian person found it offensive nor did the person appearing in the ad, they wouldn't have made the ad otherwise. In Europe we have black people going as slaves/helpers in religious processions with white saints.

              Travel the world, you'll find it interesting how much hullabaloo we make of political issues that to the rest of the world and in context, don't matter.

              • by skam240 ( 789197 )

                A) I happen to be very well traveled, thank you very much.
                B) Everything East of India tends to be extremely all Asian, as in very few people of African descent. It's not at all surprising mono ethnic countries didn't find labeling black people as dirty as offensive. There just aren't enough black people to be statistically significant.
                C) Reenacting a scant few religious festivals by playing a historic / mythological role as some one who was oppressed at the time is not at all the same as a TV commercial lit

          • What I meant is that in Asian societies, what we call "racist" is acceptable.

            Those words don't make sense in that arrangement. "racism" is about bias because of race. It has nothing to do with acceptable/unacceptable behaviour except that many people round these parts consider racism unacceptable.

            Disliking someone because of skin colour is pretty much the textbook definition of racism, regardless of whether someone standing nearby disapproves or not.

            What you mean is "...racism is acceptable".

            • by guruevi ( 827432 )

              What *you* call racism is acceptable in certain cultures and in certain contexts. Even if it is racism per definition, the majority of the world accepts that racism is a natural thing and works with and around it.

              It's hard to explain in words to an American like you but travel the world, get to know people and you'll see, people make jokes about their own and other races much more often than American Puritans or SJW would allow them to.

              • Two things strike me about your line of thinking:

                Just because other cultures do it, does that make it ok?

                In the US, we have a very, very different relationship with race than most places in the world, mostly due to the history of slavery, which was instituted along the lines of race. Yes, slavery existed before, but the US was a pioneer in constructing a system of perpetual, inherited slavery based upon race.

                This historical pattern absolutely impacts *how* we have come to understand and talk about

                • by guruevi ( 827432 )

                  It does not make it ok *within the US* because it's a different societal norm. But to judge other cultures (as many of the parent postings do) based on your own (limited) understanding of other cultures is just as bad.

                  As a non-US-ian I am well aware of how the US got to be where it is now, but I've got enough context to be able to say that even within the US, not every societal group accepts those rationalizations of the US's adaptive behavior.

              • What *you* call racism is acceptable in certain cultures and in certain contexts.

                No, what is generally defined to be racism is acceptable etc...

                Even if it is racism per definition,

                It is.

                You're hung up on racism==bad so if lots of people do it it can't be bad therefore it isn't racism. Kinda BS mate.

                the majority of the world accepts that racism is a natural thing and works with and around it.

                So? Living in trees, flinging poo and dying at 23 is natural, but that doesn't mean it's good.

                It's hard to explain

                • You're hung up on racism==bad so if lots of people do it it can't be bad therefore it isn't racism

                  This is a major problem right now. Take a look at the number of threads right now along the lines of:

                  Person A: "Muslims refugees are invading Europe and raping their white women."
                  Person B: "That's racist bullshit dude"
                  Person A: "How DARE you call me a racist! Liberal ((((SJWs)))) calling people who just hate Muslims, Blacks, and Messicans is EXACTLY why we voted for Trump."

                  They don't like it when you ca

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          China hasn't had the historical problems with a large black population, so is less aware of the issues. That's all it is really, they are more aware of issues that affect them like lingering animosity towards Japanese people due to the war, much like how many British people still hate and mistrust Germans.

          Things are of course changing quickly as the middle class grows. Women's rights in particular are advancing quickly, although they still have a long way to go to reach European levels. And of course it's s

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Ohh fuck off. Places of work are not school yards, as long as it does not get out of hand, lead to physical conflict of disrupt productivity, grow the fuck up and get back to work. Not every fucking place on the planet has to be PC, nor can it be, just the way it is. Keep in mind they have a right to their culture as well, their natural coarseness, it is who they are and you are just being racist against their culture.

      At one point eventually you have to accept adults are adults and must accept adult respon

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Workplaces are "not schoolyards", and yet you're the one saying repeatedly to "grow up". Mature, civilized people (aka not children on the schoolyard) treat each other with respect and consideration versus a selfish dog-eat-dog mentality. If schoolyard-type bullying in a workplace is making someone miserable, your answer is to just suck it up? I hope our societies move consistently away from the worldview you embrace.

    • >. It is a shame that we live in times where people on the far right and hate groups are becoming emboldened because of the poor example our country's leadership is setting. I hate bringing politics into this, but leadership that encourages hatred emboldens

      So it's Obama's fault this happened? (In case you didn't know, he was president in 2015, when this happened.). Good thing we now have new leadership so people who were discriminated against under Obama can now safely bring their plight out in the open

      • The Dems DO spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about race...

        Yeah yeah dems pubs partisan blah blah, but no not all things are equal Whatever the dems have done[*] the Republican party have a much worse record on race. This whole "both sides are equal no matter what" attitude has pretty much poisoned all rational discourse. Not being American, I don't really have a horse in that race except that hyper-partisan political discourse is the cause of far too many problems.

        TL;DR stop drawing false equivalen

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by RedK ( 112790 )

          the Republican party have a much worse record on race.

          Yeah, those pesky Republicans who ended slavery in the United States, and then proceeded to massively outvote Democrats on the Civil Rights act of 1964.

          Yeah, much worse record... Like do you people ever do any research or do you just regurgitate media talking points ?

          Not being American

          Oh nvm, just an uneducated twit with no knowledge of what he speaks of.

          • Get a brain moran, and read the entire post including the footnote you so carefully snipped.

            Anyway you've certainly proven you're partisan.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The funny thing about the N word is that it's a frequent part of conversations between people of African descent, being used almost with delight. That's OK, right? but as soon as someone from a different race uses that word, all hell breaks loose...

  • by bongey ( 974911 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @04:34PM (#55392669)
    And when are the political narratives constantly being pushed now on this site going to end? I thought this was a tech site.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Serious question. What if someone started a competing site in the mold of what Slashdot used to be? That is to open source the site's code, editors around on IRC, a focus on hardware and software (especially open source), etc... Let's say the site intended to build a community of nerds with stories that are of interest to nerds. Would you frequently visit that site?

    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      When politics don't "matter".

      "News for nerds and stuff that matters"

      Year after year I read idiots complain "Back in my day it was all tech". News flash, I've been here since 98 (Didn't create a log on until latter) and it has never been all tech.

      • Yes, but back then wasn't there a checkbox you could use to filter out Jon Katz's supercilious and presumptuous claptrap?

        • by skam240 ( 789197 )

          Sadly there still isn't a checkbox to filter out idiots who want slashdot to only post exactly what they want to see posted and nothing else.

    • And when are the political narratives constantly being pushed now on this site going to end? I thought this was a tech site.

      Alleged racial discrimination on a pre-eminent tech company, being discussed on a nerds site that has, since its inception covered such topics. Stop pretending that you only care for tech-new purity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Elon Musk is a hypocrite. He claims to support the good of the workers, advocating for ideas like universal basic income. However, Tesla is suppressing the formation of unions that would represent the workers and ensure their rights are respected. And now Tesla is alleged to have allowed racial harassment to have occurred in its factories. Musk doesn't truly care about the good of workers. He's grandstanding because doing so presents a favorable image of himself that helps boost sales. He doesn't actually w

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      Cant do much of anything if the unions bankrupt him. Don't get me wrong, I like unions... But the UAW is a little notorious.
    • by phayes ( 202222 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @05:01PM (#55392825) Homepage

      Claims != proven facts and a simple google search on "uaw fraud unionizing" will show that UAW has been proven to have stooped to lies and out and out fraud in pursuit of forcing unionization.

      Lets save the outrage until fault has been proven and avoid becoming the modern equivalent of whites in the south lynching a black man on trumped up claims, shall we?

  • This makes no sense, Tawana Brawley et al?

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  • I've worked on the line for 7 months with a quarter of the people being black and more than half of the people being commuters from Oakland. Where is this racism? I doubt their story and I'm disgusted by the people in the comment section acting like their opinions on the state of things matter.

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