The latest company engulfed a racial mess is Tesla’s automobile factory. A couple of employees are aggrieved over derogatory remarks used by their fellow colleagues.
CNN reports that according to Tesla, the firm treats every case of discrimination with seriousness and that ‘in the history of Tesla, there has never been a single case of discrimination against the company’. However, contrary to what the Tesla boss claims, a female engineer reports that she was ridiculed on the factory floor and after she sued for gender discrimination and pay inequity, she was fired from the company.
It turns out that there are other employees with a similar grievance. One employee says that the others made a mockery of his pants and referred to it as ‘gay tight’. Three others report that the auto manufacturing facility is prejudiced against black workers. In total, four lawsuits have been filed very recently to describe the prejudiced nature of some whites at the manufacturing company in California where about 10,000 people work.
Contrary to what the Tesla’s boss Elon Musk told CNN, the aggrieved workers are not only suing for mistreatment against them, they allege that the company under scrutiny has refused to act appropriately when an earlier complaint was tendered to Tesla. In other cases, it involved some third-party staffing companies that the auto company contracts with. However, Tesla says he only learnt about these complaints through media reports and that the three men involved never raised an official complaint. CNN reports that these companies have also been named in the lawsuits.
If Tesla is right, why did the three men involved refrain from speaking out earlier? Could it be that they feared they would lose their jobs like the lady who raised an alarm and got fired afterward?
Whatever the case, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of colour, race, religion, sex or national origin. With these adverse cases, where the manufacturing firm has turned into a hostile work environment for the coloured, with the free use of derogatory remarks, not only will productivity be affected; even the brand should be at stake in a sane atmosphere.
The Lawyers representing Lambert (one of the aggrieved employees) in his suit, and the other three with a similar allegation in their different lawsuits say that many employees, previous and current have called to make the same complaint about racial discrimination that persists at the automobile factory. He said:
‘At some point, we were receiving dozens of calls per day. Most of the calls from Tesla employees are related to race harassment issues, which is reflective of how serious this problem is at the company.’
AJ Vandermeyden, a female engineer sued the company for gender discrimination. She alleged that the male engineers received higher salaries and were considered for promotion ahead of their female colleagues who had the same qualification. In retaliation for her lawsuit, however, she was fired. The auto firm dismissed her allegations, saying her ‘claims were illegitimate’ and were left with no other option than to dismiss her from the firm.
A spokesperson from Tesla defended the interest of the firm saying that the aggrieved workers are only taking advantage to garner media attention. He said:
‘It maximises the chances of generating publicity for their case. They abuse our name because they know it is catnip for journalists. Tesla takes any and every form of discrimination or harassment extremely seriously. There is no company on earth with a better track record than Tesla.’
Time will tell if we should take his defence with a pinch of salt.