Tesla sued by black, gay worker claiming ‘unchecked’ racism (1)

A black gay woman who worked in a Tesla Inc. The factory accused the electric vehicle maker in a lawsuit of “festering” racism while ignoring racial and homophobic slurs and the physical injuries it endured.

Kaylen Barker, a former contract worker who inspected brake parts, is the latest to complain that Tesla ignores discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and gender at its factories. According to his complaint, his abuse occurred even as Tesla was defending another contract worker’s discrimination case in court – which the company lost and was ordered to pay $137 million in damages.

A white co-worker hit Barker with a hot grinding tool while calling him the n-word, ‘stupid, stupid’ and a ‘b—-‘, according to his complaint, filed in state county court on Tuesday. of Alameda, California. The co-worker was fired after Barker complained to Tesla’s human resources department, but was “shockingly rehired” about two weeks later “without any warning or explanation,” she said in her statement. complaint.

“I feel like I was tortured and sent back in time before African Americans had civil rights,” she said in a statement. Barker, 25, said she was “physically, mentally and emotionally abused” because she was “an African-American lesbian”.

Barker was hired to work at Tesla’s sub-assembly plant in Lathrop, Calif., by a staffing agency in February 2021. She was fired Oct. 29 after filing complaints with supervisors, the complaint says. – a decision that she qualifies as reprisals. She refused to sign a “document falsely admitting to dissent” even though human resources pressured her to do so daily for nearly a month before her dismissal, she said in her lawsuit.

Tesla, which does not have a public relations department, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Nearly three weeks before Barker was fired, the former Tesla human resources chief said a jury was wrong to award Owen Diaz $137 million for racial abuse at his factory in Fremont, California. Valerie Workerwho left Tesla earlier this year, said the company had “come a long way” in the fight against workplace harassment since 2015 and 2016.

Read more: Tesla looks like a ‘plantation,’ says lawyer who won lawsuits for workers

“Tesla says it’s changed, but it’s not a different company,” Barker’s attorney, Bernard Alexander, who also represented Diaz, said in an interview. “Now we have an employee,” who was discriminated against during and after the Diaz trial and “Tesla did next to nothing to protect her,” he said.

Tesla’s Fremont factory has long been the subject of racial and sexual harassment complaints. Many complaints never make it to court because full-time Tesla employees sign agreements requiring workplace disputes to be dealt with in closed-door arbitration, which itself has drawn fire Tesla investors.

In May, a former black employee won a rare $1 million discrimination award in arbitration for the company’s failure to stop his supervisors from calling him the “N-word.” The award Diaz won is considered one of the most significant verdicts in a race discrimination case by a single plaintiff.

Tesla challenged Diaz’s verdict as “unprecedented” and said in a court filing that it “has no relation to the actual evidence at trial.” A California federal judge has signaled that he will likely reduce the jury award, but has yet to issue a final decision on Tesla’s request for a new trial and reduced damage award.

(Adds complaint details to third and fifth paragraphs.)

–With the help of Dana Hull and Robert Burnson.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Malathi Nayak in San Francisco at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski to [email protected]

Joe Schneider, Peter Jeffrey

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