California seeks to force Tesla to comply with racial bias probe
California regulators are taking legal action against Tesla to force the company to comply with a state investigation into allegations of unlawful harassment and discrimination against some black Tesla workers.
The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) said Thursday it is seeking a court order that will run alongside the state’s ongoing lawsuit over employment discrimination claims. The agency originally filed the lawsuit in February 2022 after receiving complaints from black workers protesting “the near-constant use of racial slurs in the workplace and the presence of racist writing and graffiti in common areas of the workplace.” workplace”.
In a filing in Alameda County Superior Court, the CRD said it subpoenaed Tesla on March 3 for a deposition from a person most familiar with “the alleged misconduct and the policies and related procedures”. The CRD said in a statement that Tesla refused to make the individual available.
“Tesla’s failure to comply with my office’s obligation to investigate allegations of workplace misconduct shows a lack of respect for the rights and welfare of their workers,” the CRD director said. Kevin Kish, in a statement.
According to court documents, Tesla did not respond to the CRD’s subpoena until late March, when the CRD resorted to sending a Zoom link for the deposition. Tesla responded to this, opposing the deposition request on the grounds that the CRD had abused its subpoena power.
The agency said Tesla claimed there was not enough time to locate the witness. The CRD then offered a “toll agreement,” a timeframe agreed between the agency and Tesla to choose a filing date, but Tesla refused to compromise, according to court filings.
Now the CRD is seeking an order to show why Tesla did not “fully respond to the investigation’s finding” and to force the automaker to comply with the CRD’s demands. And as icing on the cake, the CRD also wants Tesla to pay attorney fees in the amount of $1,425.
CRD states that under California law, it has the right and responsibility to investigate every complaint of civil rights violation.
“The California Department of Civil Rights will not accept any attempts to obstruct our investigation,” Kish said. “My office is simply seeking to fulfill its legal obligation to investigate allegations of discrimination. Tesla is not above the law.
Over the past year, Tesla has tried a number of methods to evade the CRD trial. The automaker has attempted to stay the lawsuit and settle out of court, have the case dismissed and bring a motion against the CRD for allegedly failing to conduct proper investigations before suing the automaker – which were all refused. Tesla also counterattacked the CRD for adopting so-called “clandestine regulations” in its investigations.
The California agency’s lawsuit against Tesla is one of many accusing the company of allowing harassment – both racial and sexual – to plague its factories. Last week, a California judge ordered Tesla to pay $3.2 million to a former black worker at its Fremont factory.
On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court allowed minority workers at the same factory to seek a court order requiring Tesla to acknowledge a pattern of racial discrimination and take steps to end it.
The judges unanimously denied Tesla’s motion to appeal a January ruling, in which two black employees sued for damages after experiencing racial discrimination at the factory. The lawsuit for damages is expected to proceed as a class action, potentially on behalf of thousands of current and past employees, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
This is apparently the first time such a ruling has been made in California, and it will set a precedent for trial courts across the state.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the CRD court order or the state Supreme Court decision.
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