A Black worker accuses electric automaker Tesla of failing to address alleged incidents of racial harassment and threats from assembly line co-workers, CBS News San Francisco reports.
DeWitt Lambert filed an 11-count lawsuit on March 27 against the Northern California company. The suit’s introduction quotes the words an assembly line supervisor allegedly said to Lambert:
“N***er, we take your a** home, n***er. Shred you up in pieces, n***er.”
According to the lawsuit, supervisors and other co-workers who harassed and intimidated Lambert “continue to roam the halls of Tesla today, even though Tesla is aware that they subjected plaintiff Lambert to repeated racists epithets for months.”
Lambert, 44, who said he feels threatened, has a video that purports to show the incident, which he said happened in 2015 and is typical of what he has experienced at the company. The co-workers also sexually harassed him, Lambert said.
He complained to Tesla’s human resources department, but Lambert said the company failed to properly handle the situation.
Tesla emailed this statement to CBS News San Francisco:
“HR personnel investigated, interviewing all of the employees who were reportedly involved. That investigation turned up conflicting accounts of what happened … In the end, there was no objective evidence that anything inappropriate occurred toward Dewitt.”
The statement added that Lambert used “the same racially insensitive language the he had complained about” while socializing with the same co-workers outside the workplace.
However, in an interview with NBC News Bay Area, Carmen Copher, the managing counsel on Tesla’s legal team, admitted the company failed to follow through on Lambert’s complaints.
She said the human resources investigator who viewed the video left the company and failed to pass the case to another investigator. Consequently, Lambert’s co-workers were not immediately disciplined.
“In reflecting back on the steps taken then, we don’t feel like we met our standard in terms of how we handled the people involved in that situation,” Copher told the NBC News affiliate. “We also pointedly, don’t believe we met our standard in how the investigation was handled.”
She added that Tesla is now disciplining the employees. That could range from warning letters to termination.