A Black former assembly line staffer at Tesla Inc. is moving to add hundreds of other workers to his 2017 lawsuit in which he called the electric-car maker's production floor a "hotbed for racist behavior."
Marcus Vaughn says class-action status is appropriate to address Tesla's failure to stop a "pattern and practice of race discrimination" and a hostile work environment at the factory in Fremont, California.
His request in a court filing Monday is backed by sworn statements from almost 240 other Black former employees and contractors who claim they too were offended by racist graffiti sprawled in common areas and the use of slurs in the workplace, including the "n-word," "boy" and "monkey." Lawyers for Vaughn said as many as 6,000 Black workers would be eligible to join the the case, though not all may seek monetary damages.
Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Companies typically try to block lawsuits from winning class-action status, which allows plaintiffs to pool resources and exert greater leverage in settlement negotiations.
If a state court judge in Oakland agrees to let Vaughn broaden the case, it would raise the stakes for Elon Musk's company. A jury in San Francisco awarded an individual worker $3.2 million in damages in April over similar discrimination claims. Owen Diaz won a $137 million jury verdict in 2021 in the original trial in his case, but asked for a redo after the judge slashed the damages award.