Tesla, the company founded by Elon Musk that’s been the darling of the electric vehicle market, is being sued by a Black, gay former employee who alleges the company did nothing as she endured racism and physical violence while on the job.
According to Insider, the woman, Kaylen Barker, alleges that a co-worker repeatedly called her the n-word and even threw a dangerous tool at her while they were on the job at a Tesla factory. The story did not specify the name or location of the facility, but the company has facilities in Austin, Fremont, Calif., Lathrop, Calif., Grand Rapids, Mich., Nevada and Buffalo.
Barker’s lawsuit also alleges that after she reported the incidents, Barker was repeatedly called into human resources and then sent home from work, effectively docking her pay, and ultimately terminated.
Tesla got rid of its PR department in 2020 and the company’s web site has no press releases related to the lawsuit. The company has also been sued over similar allegations in the past.
Barker is being represented by J. Bernard Alexander, III, the same attorney who represented Owen Diaz, a former Tesla elevator operator who successfully sued the company for racial harassment in October 2021. A jury ordered Tesla to pay Diaz $137 million in damages, although the company is unlikely to pay the entire sum.
“The Tesla of 2015 and 2016 (when Mr. Diaz worked in the Fremont factory) is not the same as the Tesla of today,” Workman wrote.
Tesla was ordered to pay a Black former worker called Melvin Berry $1 million in August 2021. Berry said supervisors called him the N-word.