Politics

Judge Approves Class-Action Lawsuit for 6,000 Black Tesla Workers Claiming Racism

A California judge has ruled that nearly 6,000 Black workers can proceed with a class-action lawsuit alleging racism and discrimination at Tesla’s Fremont factory.

Ars Technica reports that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Noël Wise issued a tentative ruling on Tuesday allowing the lawsuit, originally filed in 2017, to move forward as a class action representing approximately 5,977 Black employees who worked at the factory from November 2016 through the present.

The lawsuit alleges 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.” In support of their claims, the plaintiffs submitted declarations from 240 people stating they heard racial slurs at the factory and that some complained to managers about discrimination.

Elon Musk, chairman and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors  Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla denies the allegations, providing its own declarations from 228 employees who said they did not observe such discrimination or harassment. Tesla says it has tracking systems to document and respond to discrimination complaints.

The judge found sufficient common evidence that Tesla may have engaged in a pattern of failing to adequately address discrimination and harassment. But damages will need to be determined individually for each class member, rather than in aggregate.

The class-action trial will unfold in two phases. First, a jury will decide if Tesla had a pattern of “fail[ing] to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring” and failing to take “immediate and appropriate corrective action.” If so, the court can issue an injunction requiring Tesla to improve its policies.

In the second phase, each class member can individually pursue financial damages in a jury trial using the Phase 1 findings as evidence. Tesla may argue that claims must be pursued in arbitration.

The ruling comes as Tesla faces a similar bias case from the California Civil Rights Department. Tesla also faced other high-profile racism lawsuits, including a $137 million verdict later reduced to $15 million in the case of former worker Owen Diaz.

Tesla called the original lawsuit “a hotbed of misinformation.” The company says it fired three workers after investigating Diaz’s claims, calling it a “fair and just response.” The tentative ruling allowing the class action will be finalized after a hearing on March 3.

Read more at Ars Technica here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.

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