Elon Musk’s Tesla Hit with a Racist Work Environment Lawsuit

Tesla Elon Musk
BRENNER, ITALY - MAY 8, 2016: Tesla charging stations are located throughout EU to accommodate owners of the electric car. (Jag_cz / Shutterstock.com)

A former Tesla employee is seeking permission from a judge to sue Tesla for racial harassment on behalf of 100 affected African-American workers, according to Bloomberg Technology. In the legal complaint, Vaughn v. Tesla Inc. in the Superior Court of California, alleges that Tesla workers, including managers, routinely used derogatory and discriminatory language against African-American workers.

Bloomberg Technology reports:

“Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination,” the employee said in the complaint, filed Monday in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.


The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the “N word” around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for “not having a positive attitude.”

Vaughn also alleges that Tesla’s workplace was a “hotbed for racist behavior,” and follows another lawsuit claiming racially-driven harassment and discrimination filed against Tesla last month.

Elon Musk
NEW YORK – DEC 14, 2016: Tesla CEO Elon Musk is seen in the lobby of Trump Tower on December 14, 2016, in New York. (JStone / Shutterstock.com)

Vaughn’s complaint also quotes allegedly features a letter from CEO Elon Musk, where he tells his employees to be “thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

From Bloomberg:

According to Monday’s complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla factory employees on May 31.

“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in the email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

“The law doesn’t require you to have a thick skin,” Organ said in an interview Monday. “Tesla is not doing enough. It’s somewhat akin to saying ‘stop being politically correct.’ When you have a diverse workforce, you need to take steps to make sure everyone feels welcome in that workforce.”

There are other lawsuits filed against Tesla claiming the company failed to give proper notice when firing hundreds of employees, claims of anti-LGBTQ harassment, a complaint for a female engineer alleging harassment, and a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board defending employee claims that the company attempted to shut down a unionization effort.

Tesla Charging Station
Stock Photo:
BRENNER, ITALY – MAY 8, 2016: Tesla charging stations are located throughout EU to accommodate owners of the electric car. (Jag_cz / Shutterstock.com)