Saturday, October 23, 2021

Former Tesla Employee Awarded $1M in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Elon Musk - Getty
Elon Musk – Getty

*An ex-Tesla employee has won $1 million after he was allegedly subjected to racial slurs by his supervisors.

As reported by Insider, Melvin Berry alleged that the work environment was vandalized with swastikas and hate symbols. The toxicity led him to resign from his job, citing emotional distress from his experience.

Here’s more from the report:

Tesla will have to pay Melvin Berry roughly $266,000 in damages and $756,000 in attorney’s fees, the arbitrator ruled, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.

Berry started working at Tesla in 2015 but resigned a little more than a year later after being called the N-word by supervisors in the “abusive and hostile” workplace at the California-based factory, according to the documents. Multiple witnesses named in the documents alleged that “the N-word was commonplace and tolerated.” 

READ MORE: Tesla a ‘Hotbed for Racist Behavior’ Says Lawsuit from 100+ Black Employees

We previously reported… more than 100 African-American employees of high-end carmaker Tesla say in a new discrimination lawsuit that its production floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” where Black workers suffer severe and pervasive harassment.

“Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-Civil Rights era race discrimination,” the employees said in the complaint, filed in 2017 in California’s Alameda County Superior Court.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont factory from April 23 to Oct. 31. Vaughn alleged that employees and supervisors regularly used the “N word” around him and other black colleagues. Vaughn said he complained in writing to human resources and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and was terminated in late October for “not having a positive attitude.”

According to the complaint, Musk sent an email to Tesla factory employees on May 31.

“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” Musk wrote in the email. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

Insider’s Allana Akhtar previously reported that one Black worker said in a sworn testimony that he was called the N-word “approximately 100 times.”

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch on Friday, the lawyer representing Berry, Jeannette Vaccaro, said: “We hope that this award of over $1 million will inspire change at Tesla and send a message to all employers that harassment and discrimination have no place at work.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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