Lawsuits Levied Against Tesla


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Edsel Ortiz, OwlFeed News Managing Editor

California’s DFEH agency (Department of Fair Employment and Housing) sued the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, on February 10, 2022. After a three-year investigation, there has been enough evidence of racial slurs/signs, sexual harassment, and intolerable working conditions in the working area. 

The earliest allegation at this location dates back to 2012. “Black and/or African American Tesla workers have complained that Tesla production leads, supervisors, and managers constantly use the N-word and other racial slurs to refer to Black workers,” according to the lawsuit filed by California’s DFEH agency. 

The DFEH alleges that workers “have complained that swastikas, ‘KKK,’ the N-word, and other racist writing are etched onto walls of restrooms, restroom stalls, lunch tables, and even factory machinery.”  

The first and only successful case against Tesla was in 2015-16. $137 million was awarded to Owen Diaz in a lawsuit against the managers at the Fremont location for ignoring his complaints of racial harassment and swastika signs on the bathroom walls. 

“There were N-words scratched into the bathroom stalls. They were calling me a perched monkey and a Spanish version of the N-word,” Diaz said to an NBC news reporter in an article for Slate

Another lawsuit filed around the same time as Diaz was from Marcus Vaughn. In an interview with Daniel Wiessner for Reuters, Vaughn explains in the lawsuit that he was consistently called the “N-word” by supervisors and fellow coworkers not long after initially starting to work there in April of 2017. 

Vaughn explained that he had specifically complained in writing but supervisors never took action on it, but was later fired that year in October for “not having a positive attitude.”

Earlier in December of this past year, six women accused Tesla in Fremont of physical assaults and harassment, and another woman made similar accusations in a lawsuit in October. 

Jessica Barraza, an employee at Tesla Fremont in California, filed allegations against the company for experiencing catcalling and physical harassment.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Barraza described her co-workers calling her a “coke-bottle figure,” and in another incident she describes a male co-worker sticking his leg between her thighs. 

As of now, Tesla denies all allegations but has not taken many actions due to agreements mandated for employees to sign. According to Faiz Siddiqui in an article for The Washington Post, lawsuits “are uncommon because Tesla requires many workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements, which mandate that disputes are settled outside of court.”  

Tesla replied with confidence, stating that this lawsuit is simply a “false misconduct” and is prepared to fight the lawsuit. “This follows a three-year investigation during which the DFEH—whose mission is supposedly to protect workers—has never once raised any concern about current workplace practices at Tesla,” the company said.   

Tesla’s immediate action once the agency had filed the lawsuit was to ask the court to take a pause on the case and provide physical or solid evidence of the allegations. DFEH has not yet agreed to provide them with any evidence.