Rampant allegations of sexual harassment in the tech world, pay discrimination, and racist AI have shown that the supposed objectivity of STEM and Silicon Valley are often lip service. Now, one of the world's most future-facing companies, Tesla, is also facing allegations of old-fashioned discrimination.
On Monday, ex-Tesla factory employee Marcus Vaughn filed a lawsuit claiming that the company is a "hotbed for racist behavior."
Per Bloomberg, Vaughn says that black employees at the electric car company "suffer severe and pervasive harassment," and he is seeking "unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment."
"Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the 'N word' around him and other black colleagues," Bloomberg reports. "Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Musk and was terminated in late October for 'not having a positive attitude.'"
Tesla did not comment on the suit, but earlier this summer, on May 31, Musk sent an email to employees saying that "part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group. Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize," he wrote. "In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology."
Apparently, other employees in recent months also lack a "thick skin." Jalopnik notes that Tesla has also faced harassment claims from a female engineer and LGBT employees, as well as allegations that the company "failed to give proper notice when laying off hundreds of workers" — leading to a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board.
With so many underrepresented groups filing complaints against the company, these suits certainly raise questions about whether Tesla is as inclusive a workplace as it needs to be.