Tesla counters California agency that filed race discrimination suit

Tesla Inc.

TSLA -4.06%

has contradicted the California agency that filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging that the government agency violated state law by filing the suit.

The electric car maker said in the suit filed Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court that the California Civil Rights Department — formerly known as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing — violated state rules by filing the lawsuit without seeking public comment or holding a public hearing.

The Tesla lawsuit says its goal is to stop the agency, also called the CRD, from violating rules known collectively as the California Administrative Procedure Act.

“CRD abused its discretion, acted beyond its statutory power and authority, and failed to proceed in the manner required by law in promulgating and generally applying the regulations,” Tesla said in its counterclaim. “The public interest demands that CRD be held accountable for its underground rulemaking in violation of the APA.”

CRD declined to comment on the countersuit.

The original lawsuit filed by the California regulatory agency in February alleged that Tesla had ignored complaints from black factory workers at its Fremont plant for years. Tesla denied those allegations and pushed back against the investigation in a blog post before the lawsuit was formally filed.

The state’s lawsuit alleged that black workers repeatedly heard Tesla supervisors and managers use racial slurs — one worker said the instances occurred 50 to 100 times a day, the agency said. There was also racist graffiti at the factory, the lawsuit states.

“After receiving hundreds of complaints from workers, the DFEH 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. ” CRD director Kevin Kish said at the time.

The lawsuit sought monetary damages of an unspecified amount, job reinstatement and payment for lost wages.

Tesla said in its February blog post that it “strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated employee relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also investigated Tesla over workplace issues. Tesla has acknowledged the investigation but has not publicly commented on its details.

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act requires at least 50% of an electric vehicle’s battery to be manufactured in the United States to qualify for a federal rebate. WSJ’s George Downs breaks down a battery to explain why it will be a challenge. Illustration: George Downs

Write to Meghan Bobrowsky at Meghan.Bobrowsky@wsj.com

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the print edition on September 23, 2022 as ‘Tesla Sues California Agency’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.