Tesla in racism row, counter attacks against California lawsuit

Tesla has shot back at a lawsuit filed against it by Department of Fair Employment and Housing which accuses it of ignoring racism incidents in its Fr
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This file photo taken on February 10 shows an aerial view of cars parked at the Tesla Fremont Factory in Fremont, California. (AFP)
This file photo taken on February 10 shows an aerial view of cars parked at the Tesla Fremont Factory in Fremont, California.

Tesla has come out all guns blazing against a California lawsuit which accuses the EV giant of ignoring incidents of racism at its factory in Fremont. Calling the lawsuit an abuse of power, Tesla has accused he state agency of hunting for headlines by ‘abandoned its founding purpose.’ The lawsuit itself was filed in February by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) but Tesla has asked the judge to pause it.

There have been several accusations from employees - present and former - of Tesla ignoring complaints of racism on the factory floor. The company's treatment of Black employees has been under a constant gaze with one lawsuit resulting in a $137 million jury verdict against the company.

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Tesla pushes back

Tesla has taken on DFEH in no uncertain terms."DFEH conducted a bare bones ‘investigation’ without interviewing key witnesses, requesting key documents, or ever stepping foot in the Fremont facility," the EV maker said in a filing in state court in Oakland. “DFEH ignored its statutory obligations and rushed to file suit against Tesla, perhaps for a quick publicity grab, perhaps out of fear that the EEOC would be the first to settle with Tesla."

File photo of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)
File photo of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)

But for Bryan Schwartz, a private attorney who has filed numerous administrative complaints against the EV maker, Tesla remains guilty of not mending its ways. "They haven’t really changed their approach, which is blame the lawyers, blame the plaintiffs, but don’t do anything about the egregious racism at their plant," he said.

Love turns sour

The past few years have seen relations between Tesla and Californian authorities hit patchy roads with Tesla shipping out its headquarter from Alameda County here to near Houston in Texas. Back in 2020, Musk had challenged local health officials to shut operations at the Fremont plant after the company had been ordered to pause work owing to Covid-19-related restrictions. The entire episode has seen even the then US President Donald Trump wade in on the side of Musk. In the times since, the Fremont plant has continued to manufacture Tesla vehicles even though the spotlight is firmly on the Texas factory that is billed to be the largest facility for the company and the epicenter for all things Tesla.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

First Published Date: 19 Apr 2022, 12:02 PM IST
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