San Francisco, April 19: The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has initiated an “open investigation” into Elon Musk-run Tesla for alleged workplace discrimination at its facilities.
In a court filing, the automaker revealed that it is being probed by the US federal agency that enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, reports TechCrunch.
Tesla also claimed in the court filing that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is exceeding its legal authority and “using litigation as a bullying tactic and to advance its turf war” with the EEOC.
In October last year, Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million in damages to a Black former contractor who accused the company of ignoring discrimination and racial abuse.
The US District Judge later reduced the punitive damages to $15 million, the report mentioned.
The jury had awarded $6.9 million in damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages.
In February, the DEFH filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging systematic racial discrimination and harassment at its Fremont manufacturing plant in the state.
The regulatory agency said it received several complaints on workplace issues at Tesla’s Fremont factory, The Wall Street Journal had reported.
“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, DFEH found evidence that Tesla’s Fremont factory is a racially segregated workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion creating a hostile work environment,” the agency’s director Kevin Kish said in a statement.
In a blog post, Tesla said that the lawsuit follows a three-year investigation during which the DFEH — whose mission is supposedly to protect workers — “has never once raised any concern about current workplace practices at Tesla”.
“Rather, the lawsuit appears focused on alleged misconduct by production associates at the Fremont factory that took place between 2015 and 2019,” the electric car-maker had said.
The Fremont factory has a majority-minority workforce.
In December last year, Tesla officially moved its headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin, Texas.