Tesla to take on California agency’s racial bias case

A view of Tesla Inc’s U.S. vehicle factory in Fremont, California, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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  • Decision finalizes previous judgment against company
  • The state claims the company had a racially segregated workplace marked by harassment and pay disparities.

(Reuters) – A lawsuit from a California civil rights agency that accuses Tesla Inc of widespread discrimination and harassment against black workers at its Fremont assembly plant will proceed after a state judge rejected the electric carmaker’s offer. to dismiss the case.

California Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo in Oakland on Friday rejected the company’s argument that the case was inappropriately broad and that the state Department of Civil Rights failed to notify it of the claims or give it an opportunity to reach out. settle before suing.

In the February lawsuit, the agency described Tesla’s flagship Fremont plant as a racially segregated workplace where black employees were harassed and discriminated against in terms of job assignments, discipline and pay.

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The agency said black workers were assigned difficult and menial jobs in racially segregated areas of the factory known as “the dark side,” were less likely to be promoted to managerial positions, and were subjected to racial slurs on a daily basis.

Tesla has denied any wrongdoing.

Grillo’s ruling on Friday finalized an interim ruling it had issued against the company on August 24.

State spokesmen and Tesla attorneys declined to comment.

In its motion to dismiss the case, Tesla argued that the agency’s lawsuit made so many claims, involving so many employees, that it would not be legally practical for a court to address the matter in a single case.

Tesla is also facing a series of racial and sexual discrimination lawsuits brought by employees themselves, mostly related to the Fremont plant.

In one such case, a federal judge in April reduced a jury verdict for a black worker who alleged racial harassment from $137 million to $15 million. The plaintiff rejected the reduced award and opted for a new trial, which is scheduled for next March.

While the allegations in the Department of Civil Rights lawsuit are similar to those in other pending cases, it likely covers many more workers because the agency is not bound by labor agreements that most Tesla employees signed and that force them to arbitrate legal claims.

The CEO of Tesla is Elon Musk, the richest person in the world.

The case is Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Tesla Inc, Superior Court of California, Alameda County, No. 22-CV-006830.

For California: Alexis McKenna of the Department of Civil Rights

For Tesla: Tina Tellado of Holland & Knight

Read more:

California sues Tesla over allegations of discrimination against black workers

Tesla likely to face California agency’s racial bias lawsuit

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Daniel Wiessner

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on employment and immigration law, including litigation and policymaking. He can be reached at [email protected]

Brendan Pierson

Thomson Reuters

Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and all areas of health care law. He can be reached at [email protected]

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