Tesla in hot water after allegations about workplace environment lead to lawsuit: ‘When you let a standard slip, you’ve set a new standard’

A new lawsuit alleges that electric automaker Tesla has allowed racial harassment at its plant in Fremont, California.

What’s happening?

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging that Black employees at the company’s Fremont plant have been victim to severe racial slurs, racist graffiti including swastikas and nooses, and stereotyping since at least 2015, according to the Washington Post.

“Slurs were used casually and openly in high-traffic areas and at worker hubs. Black employees regularly encountered graffiti, including variations of the N-word, swastikas, threats, and nooses, on desks and other equipment, in bathroom stalls, within elevators, and even on new vehicles rolling off the production line,” the EEOC said in a statement.

Why are these allegations against Tesla concerning?

Tesla is a major powerhouse in the world of electric vehicle manufacturing, and the company’s work has been vital to the development of a greener auto industry.

The average gas-guzzling car produces over 100,000 pounds of carbon pollution per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and according to the Department of Energy, EVs contribute lower rates of pollution into the atmosphere than traditional vehicles.

With that in mind, it’s incredibly troubling to consider the possibility that one of the world’s largest EV manufacturers maintains one or more discriminatory, unsafe work environments for its employees.

In order to bring about climate justice and a greener future, it’s vital that the companies responsible for electrifying our future treat their employees with respect and decency.

What’s being done about this?

The EEOC’s lawsuit against Tesla is one of the most concrete ways the company can be pressured into changing its corporate culture.

Taking legal action against unethical business practices should force a company to make concrete changes that make it a non-discriminatory, welcoming working environment.

“When you let a standard slip, you’ve set a new standard. Determining that prolific racial slurs do not merit serious discipline and failing to correct harassing conduct sends an entirely wrong message to employees,” said EEOC San Francisco District Office Director Nancy Sienko in a statement. “It also violates an employer’s legal responsibility to act swiftly and effectively to stop race-based harassment.”

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