May 28, 2018
In a new discrimination lawsuit filed by two black Tesla autoworkers, Owen Diaz and his son Demetric say that “they were regularly subject to racist epithets by co-workers and supervisors.” Along with slurs, co-workers told Owen to “go back to Africa” and drew racist caricatures in bathroom stalls and on bales of cardboard.
Tesla contractors terminated Demetric and demoted Owen, who then quit.
In 2017, Tesla’s black autoworkers filed three previous discrimination lawsuits. The Tesla management ignored, rebuffed, or did not investigate these black workers’ complaints about discrimination.
Last year, a contractor fired one of the workers suing the compay, Marcus Vaughn, for “not having a positive attitude.” Marcus had written to the human resources department to complain about the racist harassment.
Tesla also aimed to silence DeWitt Lambert, a black worker who is also suing Tesla for racial discrimination. Tesla’s lawyer wrote to DeWitt’s lawyer that “We are willing to pay Mr. Lambert, but only if we are to resolve this matter before there is media attention.”
In May 2017, Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk wrote to employees: “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.”
So as long as the racists apologize, black workers are supposed to take it? Musk presents himself as a futuristic “entrepreneur,” but his racial attitudes are from the last century... or maybe the one before that.