Poor Elon Musk just can't catch a break. After admitting that Tesla hasn't yet figured out how to weld (a fairly critical task for auto OEMs), blowing through Model 3 production deadlines (which probably had something to do with rumors that 'the most advanced auto OEM in the world" was making components by hand), and firing 100's of employees, the embattled company now finds itself locked in yet another employee lawsuit...this time filed by over 100 black employees alleging racial discrimination.
Filed in the Superior Court in Alameda County, Musk's latest legal nightmare alleges, among other things, that his Fremont manufacturing facility is a "hotbed for racist behavior" in which employees and supervisors "regularly use the 'N word.'" Per Bloomberg:
Tesla Inc.’s production floor is a "hotbed for racist behavior," more than 100 African-American employees claimed in a lawsuit in which they alleged black workers at the electric carmaker suffer severe and pervasive harassment.
The employees are seeking permission from a judge to sue as a group and are seeking unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment.
"Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination," the employees said in the complaint, filed Monday in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the “N word” around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for "not having a positive attitude."
Of course, this seems to be the continuation of a lawsuit filed by 3 workers in Alameda County last month (we noted it here: Tesla Sued For "Hostile Work Environment" After "Racist Drawings, Epithets" Appear In Factory) which also alleged that Tesla effectively contributed to the creation of a "hostile work environment" after "racist drawings and epithets" were found sprinkled around the Fremont plant.
Three former Tesla factory workers charge in a new suit the company’s factory is a hostile environment for black workers, adding to earlier accusations of racial harassment.
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.
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.
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.
Making matters even worse, this latest lawsuit also disclosed an email from Musk in which he tells minority workers that they need to "be thick-skinned."
According to the complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla factory employees on May 31.
“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in the email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”
Not surprisingly, Mr. Vaugn's lawyer was quick to point out that there is no legal precedent requiring employee's to "have a thick skin."
“The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin,” Organ said in an interview Monday. "Tesla is not doing enough. It’s somewhat akin to saying ‘stop being politically correct.’ When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce."
Perhaps someone with some level of people skills should handle all firm-wide email blasts going forward...just a thought, Elon.