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Black worker says Tesla factory was a "hotbed for racist behavior"

14 November 2017

A lawsuit filed by a former employee on Monday alleges that USA automaker Tesla Inc.'s California production plant is a "hotbed for racist behavior" where black employees were called racial slurs.

Tesla is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that African-Americans workers are being exposed to racial slurs - and that the company is actively ignoring complaints.

According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, a former employee at the Fremont factory from April 23 to October 31, who alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the N-word around him and other black colleagues.

In his lawsuit, Vaugh mentioned that employees and supervisors used the "N-Word" on a regular basis around Vaugh, and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes. He says he complained in writing to human resources officials, but those complaints were never investigated.

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Vaughn was sacked in October for "not having a positive attitude".

He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, to be paid to himself and other employees.

Vaughn stated that although the company is considered an innovative company and the pioneer of the electric auto revolution, its standard operating procedure "is pre-Civil rights era race discrimination".

Brian Snyder / Reuters Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, July 15, 2017.

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According to Vaughn's lawsuit, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Tesla factory employees in May that when they were faced with harassment they should, basically, suck it up.

The suit also states Musk sent an email to all employees in May about discrimination and harassment.

Tesla has already battled lawsuits alleging the company discriminates against homosexual and elderly workers.

"Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group", Musk allegedly wrote. "Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize".

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Tesla is yet to comment on Vaughn's lawsuit. "When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce". More than 10,000 people work at its sole auto-assembly plant in Fremont, California, where the United Auto Workers have launched a campaign to persuade workers to join the union.

Black worker says Tesla factory was a