Could California Take Action Against Tesla on Civil Rights Grounds?

This follows a series of lawsuits against the automaker

A Tesla logo on a sign. According to Tesla, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing notified Elon Musk's EV maker that it could file a civil complaint against the company due to accusations of racism.
Tesla has already been forced to pay for instances of racism, but could more action be coming?
Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Does Tesla have a racism problem? A number of lawsuits suggest the company just might. That includes one filed by Owen Diaz, which argued that he had been targeted with racist language during his time working there in 2015 and 2016. A jury awarded him $137 million last year, which prompted the company to issue a statement that said, in part, “While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect.”

Earlier this month, Kaylen Barker filed a lawsuit against Tesla contending that she faced racist abuse while working in a Tesla factory. Barker’s lawsuit states that what she faced was “reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.”

Multiple lawsuits might not be the only thing Tesla will face as a result of this, however. As CNBC reported on Monday, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has notified the automaker that it could file a civil complaint against Tesla.

The grounds cited in the report were “undisclosed allegations of race discrimination and harassment at unspecified Tesla locations.”

As Tesla noted in an SEC filing, “[t]he DFEH gave notice that, based upon the evidence collected, it believes that it has grounds to file a civil complaint against Tesla.” Whether or not it plans to do so — and what action it might take — remains to be seen.

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