Tesla sued by Black, gay employee over ‘festering’ racism and homophobia

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

A Black gay woman has filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming that “festering” racism and homophobia went “unchecked” in its factory.

Kaylen Barker was a contract worker at a Tesla Inc factory in Lathrop, California, inspecting brake parts, according to Bloomberg, and her complaint filed Tuesday (1 February) alleges that she was also subject to physical violence.

She claims a white colleague called her the n-word, “stupid”, “dumb” and a “bitch” while they hit her with a hot grinding tool. The worker was fired, according to her complaint, but “shockingly rehired without any forewarning or explanation” just two weeks later.

Barker, 25, was hired at the California sub-assembly plant via a staffing agency, but was fired just eight month later in “retaliation”, she claims.

She alleges that she was pushed to sign a “document falsely confessing to being insubordinate” by HR for around a month before she was sacked.

In a statement, Barker said she had been “violated physically, mentally, and emotionally” because she is “an African-American lesbian”, and added: “I feel like I have been tortured and sent back in time before African-Americans had civil rights.”

Tesla has faced multiple claims of discrimination from employees

Kaylen Barker is just the latest in a string of former Tesla employees who claim that discrimination goes unpunished at the the Elon Musk-owned company’s factories.

Less than a month before she was fired, the company was ordered to pay Black former contracted elevator operator Owen Diaz nearly $137 million in damages, after he complained that he was subject to racist abuse at a Tesla factory in San Francisco.

Diaz said co-workers drew swastikas and racist graffiti around the factory and bombarded him with “racist epithets”, including the n-word.

Bernard Alexander, the attorney who represented Diaz and now represents Barker, said: “Tesla claims that it’s changed but it’s not a different company.

“Now we have an employee who faced discrimination at the time of and after the Diaz trial and Tesla basically did nothing to protect her.”

Information about Diaz and Barker’s cases is publicly available because they were contract workers, but Tesla requires full-time employees sign agreements that any workplace disputes will be dealt with in closed-door arbitration.

In May last year, Black former full-time employee was handed a $1 million discrimination award because Tesla did not stop senior staff from referring to him with the n-word.

PinkNews has contacted Tesla for comment.