Tesla must face lawsuit alleging racism, 'n-word' use at Elon Musk's California factory

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, with a Model S car. Photo: Reuters, 2016

Some news you may have missed on New Year's Eve -- a federal judge has rejected efforts by Elon Musk's Tesla to dismiss claims brought by two former California employees that the car factory where they worked was a racist environment. The judge's decision clears the way for a trial, which is scheduled for May 11, 2020.

“U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco found open questions over whether Owen Diaz and his son Demetric Di-az faced 'severe and pervasive racial harassment' in 2015 and 2016 at Tesla’s factory in suburban Fremont, which employs more than 10,000 people,” reported Reuters on December 31:

The plaintiffs, who are black, said they were subjected to repeated racial epithets dozens of times, as well as racist cartoons, and that supervisors engaged in or did little to stop the racism.

Orrick said Diaz could pursue claims that Tesla allowed and did not take reasonable steps to stop racial harassment.

He said punitive damages might be available if Tesla must have known about the harassment and “ratified” it, even if only lower level workers were directly involved.

“The n-word is perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English, a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry,” Orrick wrote. “This case will proceed to trial.”

Tesla must face lawsuit claiming racism at California factory [reuters.com]