Marcus Vaughn, a former Black assembly line staffer at Tesla, has filed a request to expand his race discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging that Tesla failed to address a “pattern and practice of race discrimination” and fostered a hostile work environment. Supported by nearly 240 sworn statements from other Black former employees and contractors, Vaughn seeks class-action status for the lawsuit, which was filed in 2017. The workers claim they experienced offensive graffiti, racial slurs, and other racist incidents within the workplace.
If the judge grants Vaughn’s request, it could have significant consequences for Tesla, as it may increase the number of eligible workers to join the case. Similar discrimination claims against Tesla have resulted in substantial damages, with one individual worker being awarded $3.2 million by a San Francisco jury in April. Another worker initially received a $137 million verdict but requested a new trial after the damages were reduced.
Tesla responded to Vaughn’s initial lawsuit by denying any wrongdoing in a blog post titled “Hotbed of Misinformation.” The company stated that it had terminated three individuals after investigating alleged incidents.
In court declarations, other former workers shared their experiences, highlighting the pervasive nature of the alleged discrimination. Instances included offensive language, unfair treatment, and derogatory name-calling based on race. Some employees claimed that their complaints were ignored, creating an unwelcome and unsafe work environment.
Tesla has faced multiple lawsuits related to the treatment of Black employees and contract workers at its Fremont plant. In February of the previous year, the state of California also filed a lawsuit against the company.
Marcus Vaughn worked at Tesla as a contractor through a staffing agency from April to October 2017 before being hired directly by the company in August of that year.