Former Tesla workers allege discrimination and harassment at NY plant

All six workers who complained were fired

The United Steelworkers (USW) union on Tuesday announced its support for former Tesla workers who alleged discrimination and harassment against the car manufacturer's Buffalo, New York, plant.

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The announcement came after WIVB News 4 Investigates discovered that six former Tesla employees had filed discrimination and harassment complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the state Division of Human Rights.

"Companies that spend considerable time, money and effort to convince the automobile-shopping public that their brand represents progress ought to be leading from the front when it comes to providing an environment free of discrimination in any form," USW District 4 Director Del Vitale said in a statement, according to a Tuesday press release.

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"Considering how Tesla's positive image helped secure public funding to build its modern, solar-powered Buffalo plant, the USW is dismayed that employees are experiencing racism," Vitale continued.

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The former employees alleged instances in which white workers used the n-word in the facility, and leadership promoted white employees over more qualified black and Hispanic employees, according to complaints and interviews.

"During my employment, I frequently heard racial epithets and slurs," one black former employee wrote in his complaint. "Whenever I brought concerns about racist comments to my supervisor, it appeared he would consult with the white co-workers but never with any of the affected black co-workers."

The same former employee recalled another instance during which he and other "black coworkers" complained about a white, female coworker who used the n-word, and instead of being fired, she was "frequently" moved among divisions at the facility and "ultimately promoted."

Additionally, Tesla fired all six employees who filed complaints, and 80 percent of workers fired earlier in 2019 were minorities, WIVB reported, citing the EEOC complaints.

The plant is now facing a pending investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office, which confirmed to FOX  Business that it has received the complaints.

Vitale said Tesla must commit to taking new measures toward ending discrimination and harassment at all of its plants.

"The USW is proud of its vastly diverse membership throughout North America and its ability to negotiate fair contracts in all of the industries and sectors in which they work," he said. "For generations, union contracts have been the surest and simplest way to prevent workplace discrimination in all forms, and it remains true today."

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Tesla did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.