Tesla Discloses Discrimination Probe by U.S. Civil Rights Agency
(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. revealed that it faced an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that predates a lawsuit by California’s civil rights agency accusing the company of ignoring “rampant racism” on its factory assembly line.
The world’s largest electric-vehicle maker disclosed the federal probe in a court filing while urging a judge in Oakland, California, to pause February’s suit by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
The state agency alleged that Tesla turned a blind eye to years of complaints about racial slurs at its plant in Fremont, where 20,000 people work.
But the automaker contends DFEH is exceeding its legal authority and “uses litigation as a bullying tactic and to advance its turf war” with the EEOC. Conflict between the agencies spilled into public view as they separately investigated Activision Blizzard Inc. over allegations about a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
Tesla said DFEH’s conduct in the Activision case and other high-profile investigations shows the agency has “abandoned its founding purpose” in favor of making sensational headlines.
“DFEH ignored its statutory obligations and rushed to file suit against Tesla, perhaps for a quick publicity grab, perhaps out of fear that the EEOC would be the first to settle with Tesla,” the automaker’s lawyers said in Monday’s filing.
Tesla also said DFEH “conducted a bare bones ‘investigation’ without interviewing key witnesses, requesting key documents, or ever stepping foot in the Fremont facility.”
DFEH began investigating Tesla in 2019 and the company said in Monday’s filing that the EEOC’s probe started earlier.
EEOC spokesperson Victor Chen declined to comment on whether an investigation of Tesla is active.
“Under federal law, possible charges (complaints) made to the EEOC are strictly confidential, and we are prohibited from releasing any information, or confirming or denying their existence,” Chen said in a statement. “These confidentiality rules apply even if information becomes public through another source.”
DFEH representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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