California slaps Tesla with lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, reports say

Tesla previously called then-impending lawsuit 'misguided'

California has sued Tesla Inc. over allegations of discrimination and harassment of Black employees at its San Francisco Bay Area factory, according to a report. 

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The suit was filed Wednesday in California’s Alameda County Superior Court, and was sparked by hundreds of worker complaints, said Kevin Kish, head of the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

The department, which enforces state civil rights laws, "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," Kish reportedly said.

TESLA SAYS CALIFORNIA PLANS TO SUE OVER ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT

An employee works on a Telsa Motor Inc. Model S sedan as it makes its way along an assembly line at company's assembly plant in Fremont, California, U.S., on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.  (Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The lawsuit was not released on the court system’s public portal as of Thursday morning, and Tesla did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request seeking comment. 

The company had warned the complaint was coming several days earlier in an annual filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. And the electric car-maker previously commented on the then-impending suit in a blog post, calling it "misguided." 

"DFEH," the blog post states, "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."

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Vehicles are parked outside the Tesla plant, in Fremont, Calif., on May 12, 2020. California sued Tesla Inc. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, over allegations of discrimination and harassment of Black employees at its San Francisco Bay area factory. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File / AP Newsroom)

It adds: "Tesla strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated Employee Relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints. We also have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team whose work is shown in this public report."

The post also said it will ask the court to "pause the case and take other steps to ensure that facts and evidence will be heard."

"Attacking a company like Tesla that has done so much good for California should not be the overriding aim of a state agency with prosecutorial authority," the blog said.

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Last October, a San Francisco jury awarded nearly $137 million to a Black contract worker who said that he faced "daily racist epithets," including the "N-word," at the plant in 2015 and 2016 before quitting.

Tesla is appealing that verdict and has denied any knowledge of racist conduct that Diaz said took place at the plant, which has about 10,000 workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.