Tesla must face class action claims by 6,000 workers in race bias case

By Thomson Reuters Feb 29, 2024 | 7:47 AM

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) -A California state judge has tentatively ruled that nearly 6,000 Black factory workers can sue Tesla as a group for the electric vehicle maker’s alleged failure to address rampant race discrimination and harassment at its Fremont plant.

California Superior Court Judge Noel Wise in Oakland said in a written order issued Wednesday that the 2017 lawsuit presents questions common to the class of whether Tesla was aware of the alleged misconduct and refused to take steps to prevent it.

Tesla and lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Tesla has maintained that it does not tolerate workplace harassment and that it has fired employees who engaged in misconduct. The plaintiffs allege that Black factory workers were subjected to a range of racist conduct including slurs, graffiti and nooses hung at their work stations.

The tentative ruling comes ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday where Tesla can contest Wise’s decision, though judges are typically unlikely to change their minds.

The decision represents a major blow to Tesla as it opens the company up to a potential multi-million dollar judgment. The class includes people who self-identified as Black and worked at the Fremont factory going back to November 2016.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alexander Smith)