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Tesla probed by Eeoc before California sues automaker over alleged racial discrimination

Tesla questioned by EEOC before California sues automaker over alleged racial discrimination

BY REBECCA ELLIOTT | UPDATED JULY 18, 2022 10:57 a.m. EDT

Lawyers for US electric vehicle maker allege misconduct by California civil rights agency

A key U.S. federal agency responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws has investigated Tesla Inc., according to a legal filing.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation came to light in a legal dispute over allegations of racial discrimination and harassment at the electric vehicle maker’s California auto assembly plant.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla in February, saying the company turned a blind eye to years of complaints from black workers.

Tesla attorneys said in a legal filing Monday in Alameda County Superior Court that the EEOC opened an investigation into the automaker before the state agency did so in 2019. They made the disclosure while alleging California Department misconduct and seeking a 120-year reprieve. days in the case. Bloomberg reported earlier on Tesla’s filing.

The DFEH “has chosen Tesla as its latest sensational, press-hogging litigation topic,” Tesla’s attorneys wrote, saying the agency’s investigation was neither neutral nor comprehensive.

Tesla, the EEOC and the DFEH did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tesla previously criticized the California civil rights agency’s investigation in a blog post that preempted the lawsuit. “Tesla stands firmly against all forms of discrimination and harassment and has a dedicated employee relations team that responds to and investigates all complaints,” the company said at the time.

California agency director Kevin Kish said in February that his organization had received hundreds of complaints from workers and found evidence that the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., was “a racially segregated workplace. “.

Last week, a federal judge said Tesla had shown a striking indifference to complaints filed by a former black worker, Owen Diaz, who sued the company for racial discrimination. U.S. District Judge William Orrick still reduced Mr. Diaz’s damages award from $137 million to $15 million, citing legal precedent and calling the initial damages excessive. Judge Orrick said he rejected Tesla’s argument that he was not responsible and upheld the jury’s verdict.

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