Three More Men File Discrimination Lawsuits Against Tesla
Three African-American men filed a new complaint Monday in Alameda County Court claiming Tesla supervisors and workers used racial epithets and drew racist graffiti on cardboard boxes.
According to Mercury News reports, Owen Diaz and his son Demetric were called the N-word while they worked at the Fremont factory and supervisors did little to stop it, while a third man, Lamar Patterson, also claims he was subjected to insensitive racist remarks.
Owen Diaz, 49, started as an elevator operator at Tesla in the summer of 2015, according to the suit. He liked the company mission and the $18 an hour wage so much he encouraged his son to apply.
“It would be a great opportunity,” he said. Demetric Diaz, 22, started as a production technician in August 2015.
One afternoon, Owen brought lunch to his son’s work station and interrupted a dispute between Demetric Diaz and his son’s supervisor, according to the suit. The supervisor cursed and used a racial slur.
“This is supposed to be a professional work environment,” Owen Diaz said in an interview. He felt crushed. “There was nothing I could do.”
Demetric Diaz complained about the regular use of epithets to the staffing agency and another supervisor, the suit said. The supervisor told him he was just a replaceable temporary worker. Diaz was dismissed less than a week later in October 2015.
Owen Diaz continued to work as an elevator operator. But over time, the suit claimed, the harassment grew worse. A co-worker regularly used the N-word. Diaz found an offensive “pickaninny” cartoon with the caption “Boo!” drawn on a bale of cardboard.
Owen Diaz also got into a heated argument with the supervisor who drew the cartoon, the suit said. He complained about the incident, and started to receive poor work evaluations. Diaz left Tesla around May 2016.
Patterson worked as an elevator operator between January and August 2016, and also claims in the suit to have been the exposed to epithets and hostility.
A PICKANINNY CARTOON… In 2015. Damn Shame.
Meanwhile, Tesla is denying the claims. A spokesman for the company says discrimination complaints typically first are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, none of the former employees filed a claim with these agencies during their time at the plant.
A Tesla spokesman denied the suit’s allegations and said the men never raised the complaints to the company during their brief time at the plant.
“Given our size, we recognize that unfortunately at times there will be cases of harassment or discrimination in corners of the company,” the spokesman said. “From what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case.”
The company received a complaint from Owen Diaz in October 2015 about a belligerent co-worker. But, the company said, “that email made no mention of the use of any racist language or epithets.”
According to the spokemsan, Tesla requires all employees to undergo anti-discrimination and harassment training.
Lawrence Organ, attorney for the men, said the incidents seem to show a pattern of insensitive behavior by Tesla supervisors and coworkers. “That’s a problem,” he said.
Organ also represents DeWitt Lambert, another former production worker. Lambert claimed in a suit against Tesla that co-workers regularly addressed him by a racial slur and made a racist and vulgar video with his stolen phone.
Owen Diaz has a photograph of the pickaninny cartoon, but do you think it will be enough for a judge or jury to rule in their favor? At this point it’s the ex-workers’ word against their former supervisors.