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15 November 2017, 01:50 | Kelvin Horton
Chris Helgren Reuters A Tesla electric vehicle charger is seen on a river bank at the edge of a parking lot in Kitchener Ont. Oct. 13 2017
Only months after workers at Tesla'sFremont, Calif. auto plant complained about grueling work conditions, the electric vehicle manufacturer is once again at the center of a labor controversy.
Last month, three African-American contract workers sued Tesla alleging that it permitted racial harassment and discrimination, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Three more cases were filed in October, all based on racism, and allege that coworkers used racial slurs and made racist drawings.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed November 13 at California Superior Court in Alameda County.
Filed on behalf of plaintiff Marcus Vaughn, an ex-Tesla worker, and more than 100 African Americans who worked at Tesla's Fremont factory between November 2016 and November 2017, the suit claims thatTesla allowed factory workers to use racist epithets, failed to take corrective action against harassers and fired black workers who complained.
Vaughn is alleged to have sent a memo to Musk and members of the human resources department, claiming that a colleague, Tim Cotton, was subject to even worse abuse.
Tesla has yet to issue a statement regarding the impending lawsuit.
The harassment centers around Vaughn and other co-workers being called the "N" word by co-workers and supervisors, and then when they complained about it in writing to management and to CEO Elon Musk, either nothing was done or they faced "backlash", the suit claims. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and unspecified damages under California anti-discrimination law.
Vaughn stated that although the company is considered an innovative company and the pioneer of the electric auto revolution, its standard operating procedure "is pre-Civil rights era race discrimination".
In addition to the growing number of lawsuits the company is facing, a unionization campaign by United Auto Workers is underway.
His legal complaint included a memo it said was from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to employees.
"Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of a historically less represented group", Musk's email reads. "Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologise". The lawsuit alleges no one from the company followed up with Vaughn about his complaint, nor did they investigate his claims.
"In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology", Tesla's C.E.O wrote in an email. Tesla has categorically denied these allegations.
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