PUBLISHED: 8:08 PM 14 Nov 2017

“Hotbed For Racist Behavior”: Tesla In Hot Water As Over 100 Workers Come Forward

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to dismiss racial issues at his plant as being a failure on the victims' part. He suggested they needed to just be "thick-skinned."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tried to dismiss racial issues at his plant as being a failure on the victims’ part. He suggested they needed to just be “thick-skinned.”

WARNING: The videos included within this story contain examples of the ongoing issues at the Tesla plant. They include language that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Tesla is again under fire for racial issues at its plants. A new lawsuit filed yesterday takes the previous lawsuit one step further as it points to the racial incidents at the car production plants as being only the tip of the iceberg. Approximately 100 black workers have banded together in the most recent lawsuit.

Court documents describe the Tesla work environment as being a “…hotbed for racist behavior.” It goes on to say that the workers were expected to endure “…severe and pervasive harassment.”

Allegations of harassment and racism at Tesla is nothing new. This new suit joins another with similar complaints. Since the new lawsuit was just filed yesterday, the group is waiting to hear from the court if they can sue as a group. The court has to permit them to sue as the larger group.

As they wait to see if the court is going to allow the 100 workers to band together under one suit, they are also holding off on including any specifics about what exactly they are suing for. There is a mention of general and punitive damages as well as a call to action that would require Tesla to create policies to address the issues.

The latest case was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn. He worked at the Fremont Tesla plant from April 23 to October 31. During this time he claims that he was subject to a wide range of racist treatment on the job. This included the use of racial slurs towards him and other black workers. Vaughn complained about the racial slurs and was in the end fired for “not having a positive attitude.”

This suit was filed in Almeda County and joins a lawsuit on behalf of Owen Diaz, Demetric Diaz, and Lamar Peterson. They also claim to have worked in a hostile environment. Their issues at the plant include the use of racial slurs, cartoons being left for them at work with racial undertones and discrimination on the job. Each of these workers was fired after complaining as well.

While workers tried to address the racial issues on the factory floor, those higher up in Tesla seemed to have other ideas. As a part of the new lawsuit, an email from CEO Elon Musk blames the victims for not just ignoring the problems. According to the email:

“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group. 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.”

That email is dated May 31 and did little to fix the issues at the plant. It seems even to downplay the overall responsibility of those who are using racial slurs since they could be using it without even knowing it. They could just be a “jerk” who needs to say they are sorry. The behavior, in this case, was just a mistake, and the victims should take an apology as a solution.

The idea that workers who are being harassed merely need to have a thick-skin did not sit well with the workers who filed the lawsuit either. The lawyer for Vaughn pointed out that:

“The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin. 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.”

Even though Tesla is known for being an industry innovator, it seems they fail miserably as far as being ahead of the game when it comes to finding value in a diverse workplace. Tesla is poised to be the front-runner in the electric car market, but the  “…standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination.”

The next step for the most recent lawsuit is to see if the court will allow the other employees to join the suit started by Vaughn. If this happens, the impact could be huge as the 100 employees set a new benchmark for the workplace environment and also seek financial damages.