tesla countersues ca civil rights department for violating state law

Tesla counter-sued the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) for violating state law which required the agency to seek public comment before adopting the procedures for investigating and suing employers, Reuters reported.

Earlier this year, the state agency alleged that Black workers were being subjected to a hostile work environment at the Fremont Factory. Last month, a California judge denied Tesla’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit although Judge Grillo said that Tesla could pursue its claims against the department in June.

According to Tesla, the procedures require that the CRD disclose the details of its investigations to employers and try to settle the claims outside of court before suing.

The Austin-based company is seeking an order barring the agency from following its allegedly unlawful procedures as it investigates any employer and wants the agency to adopt new regulations through a formal rulemaking process.

It also asked the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) to investigate the CRD’s use of unlawful policies but last month, the OAL declined to review Tesla’s petition and didn’t explain why.

In 2017, a former factory employee, Marcus Vaughn filed a class-action lawsuit against the company because he was allegedly called racial slurs by his supervisors and fellow colleagues. Another former employee, Owen Diaz, sued Tesla on similar grounds and although a jury gave Tesla a $137 million penalty, the amount was reduced to $15 million which Diaz rejected.

Earlier this year, Tesla spoke out about the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The lawsuit followed a three-year investigation during which the DFEH has never once raised any concern about Tesla’s workplace practices, the company said.

“Over the past five years, the DFEH has been asked on almost 50 occasions by individuals who believe they were discriminated against or harassed to investigate Tesla. On every single occasion, when the DFEH closed an investigation, it did not find misconduct against Tesla. It, therefore, strains credibility for the agency to now allege, after a three-year investigation, that systematic racial discrimination and harassment somehow existed at Tesla. A narrative spun by the DFEH and a handful of plaintiff firms to generate publicity is not factual proof,” Tesla said.

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