Tesla may produce a thoroughly modern automobile but the alleged racism at its California plant sounds like something out of the Jim Crow era. Or worse.
February 12, 2022

Tesla may produce a thoroughly modern automobile but the alleged racism at its California plant sounds like something out of the Jim Crow era. Or worse.

The Los Angeles Times has a detailed report on a lawsuit filed against Tesla this week “on behalf of thousands of Black workers after a decade of complaints and a 32-month investigation.”

WARNING: The racist behavior and slurs described below are quite disturbing.

Tesla segregated Black workers into separate areas that its employees referred to as “porch monkey stations,” “the dark side,” “the slave ship” and “the plantation,” the lawsuit alleges.

Only Black workers had to scrub floors on their hands and knees, and they were relegated to the Fremont, Calif., factory’s most difficult physical jobs, the suit states.

Graffiti — including “KKK,” “Go back to Africa,” the hangman’s noose, the Confederate Flag and “F-- [N-word]” — were carved into restroom walls, workplace benches and lunch tables and were slow to be erased, the lawsuit says.

That’s on top of the more modern type of discrimination such as racial disparity in pay and promotions.

Musk grew up in apartheid South Africa and says he left because he didn’t want to serve in the army and enforce it. But he sure sounds like he took some of the apartheid ethos with him. The Times says he responded to a 2017 class-action suit that called the company “a hotbed of racist behavior” “with an email to employees describing company culture as ‘hardcore and demanding.' Anyone who makes an ‘unintentional slur’ should apologize, he wrote, and the recipient should ‘be thick-skinned and accept the apology.’”

It just so happens that Musk is moving Tesla headquarters from California to Texas. The lawsuit calls that plan “another move to avoid accountability,” the Times notes.

Tesla responded to the suit with a defensive blog post that complains the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has not provided “the specific allegations or the factual bases for its lawsuit.” There is no indication of concern that someone may have slipped through the cracks of its supposedly inclusive policies nor of any willingness to improve its procedures.

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