Tesla labels lawsuit alleging workplace racism as ‘extortion’


Tesla Motors responded Tuesday to allegations that racial slurs were used against black workers at their factory in Fremont, saying they terminated the employment of several workers after investigating those reports.

Tesla’s communication team also cast aspersions at the attorney who filed the lawsuit against them on behalf of plaintiff Marcus Vaughn, saying in a statement that Lawrence Organ with the California Civil Rights Law Group has a “long track record of extorting money for meritless claims and using the threat of media attacks and expensive trial costs to get companies to settle.”

Corporate officials said:

“At Tesla, we would rather pay ten times the settlement demand in legal fees and fight to the ends of the Earth than give in to extortion and allow this abuse of the legal system.”

Vaughn worked at the Tesla facility from April 23 to Oct. 31, according to the lawsuit, which claims that he was subjected to race-based harassment including the use of the “N-word.” Vaughn makes further claims that Tesla’s management failed to take corrective action after that harassment occurred.

Tesla called incidents in question “disappointing behavior” that they investigated several months ago, identifying “a number of conflicting accusations and counter accusations between several African-American and Hispanic individuals, alleging the use of racial language” and at least one threat of violence.

They terminated the employment of three of the individuals involved, not including Vaughn, who Tesla officials claim was employed by a temp agency on a six-month contract that “simply ended.” Organ filed the lawsuit, which seeks to be certified as a class action representing current and former black workers employed at Tesla’s Fremont production facility after Nov. 9, 2016, in Alameda County on Monday.

A court date has not yet been set, according to his law firm.

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