According to sworn testimonies obtained by Protocol, former Tesla workers at the company’s Fremont, CA factory frequently used racial slurs against Black employees.
Aaron Craven, a Black worker at Tesla’s Fremont factory, told Protocol when he clocked in to work everyday he knew he might hear or be called the N-word. When he walked into the bathroom stalls, he knew he might see graffiti of “KKK” or a swastika in bathroom stalls.
“I was directly called n—– and n—- approximately 100 times at the Fremont factory,” Craven said in a sworn statement. “I heard the terms n—– and n—- used over 100 times by co-workers, and by my lead Auggie, in the Tesla factory.”
Ex-contractor Aaron Minor gave statements saying he had also been called “n—–” by former Tesla workers and that he too had had found swastikas in the bathroom. Minor also stated that he heard Tesla employees refer to the Fremont factory as a “plantation” and Black people as “cotton workers,” according to Protocol’s report.
“My understanding is that people refer to the Tesla factory as the Plantation and call employees cotton workers because Tesla treats its Black employees like slaves,” Minor wrote in a sworn statement.
These sworn statement and over one hundred others can be found in a 500-page exhibit filed in March 2021 as part of a 2017 lawsuit that alleges Tesla discriminates against Black people and has allowed a racially hostile work environment to fester in its factories.
Craven and Minor along with Adrianna Leaks, Akylah Davis, Amamonye Robbins, Ambriz Ladson, Andrexia Robbins, Angela Allen, Anthony Williams and Antonio High submitted the first 10 declarations/affidavits in the March 2021 packet. All accuse Tesla, its managers and its employees of racism and discrimination at the Fremont factory. In addition to slurs and inferences to slavery, many of the statements allege struggles for job promotion, workers forced to perform menial tasks below their pay grade or different from their colleagues, and an employer disinterested in investigating allegations.
According to Protocol, these allegations against Tesla are not unique. Protocol found that almost 120 people have requested the right to sue Tesla in California for discriminatory reasons since 2018. These reasons related to race, national ancestry, skin color, gender, age, disability or other factors related to family and medical leave.
While Tesla has for years denied that it tolerates and enables racist and discriminatory behavior, Tesla admitted the firm has “work to do” to be representative of the evolving US population after an internal diversity report showed Black people hold just 4% of leadership roles at the transportation company.