Black Tesla Workers Allegedly Moved To The Back When Expecting CEO, 'They Didn’t Want A Black Face Up There'
Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan

Black Tesla Workers Allegedly Moved To The Back When Expecting CEO, 'They Didn’t Want A Black Face Up There'

More exposure to the environment at Tesla for Black employees has to come to light, and it’s not looking good — at all.

The Los Angles Times reports that the American electric vehicle and clean energy company is currently under fire after several Black employees allege unfair and racist treatment occurring at the company’s California plant.

One of the most alarming claims along with repeated incidents of being subject to racial slurs is that a number of Black employees were allegedly moved to the back of the plant when Tesla CEO Elon Musk would visit because “they didn’t want a Black face up there.” 

These accounts of alleged racial discrimination at the plant add to the lawsuit filed against Tesla by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on Feb. 9. AfroTech previously reported that the suit was filed on behalf of over 4,000 Black employees, both current and former, making it the largest racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the state due to the number of people affected.

A Toxic Work Culture

Monica Chatman joined the Tesla family in 2016 and was initially excited to be onboard the company where it was promised: “if you do the work, you can succeed and this is the best job you’ll ever have.”

For the single mother, this sentiment was the exact opposite (Actually, her description of her tenure at the company sounds more like it was a living hell). She even notes that she once worked for three months straight without a single day off.

“There was a time where I worked three months straight – no days off,” said Chatman, who also explained that Black workers were given “the work nobody wanted to do – that was more wear and tear on the body.” She also referred to Tesla as “modern day slavery.”

The Alleged Segregated Work Environment

The company is said to have subjected its Black employees to the worst conditions imaginable, even placing them in the coldest areas of the factory and ensuring that no Black faces were at the front during Elon’s visits.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chatman said, “she and other Black workers were being segregated in ‘the nastiest, most uncomfortable area’ of the factory where it was ‘freezing cold’ in winter.”

After filing complaints to Rose Sanson, who is a part of Tesla’s human resources department, Chatman found that the constant harassment from Asian and White employees allegedly calling her the n-word and making chicken references subsided. While she thought that she’d be able to turn over a new leaf within the company, the exact opposite happened.

Despite continuous hard work, she claims that she was constantly denied routine performance reviews which held her from receiving raises and promotions. Chatman also shared that she had to watch employees that she trained, receive promotions in no time while she was left wondering when or if the same would ever happen for her.

“I was blackballed,” she recalled, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In 2019, things took a turn for the worst after Chatman was fired following an incident in which she hit a sprinkler head while driving her forklift down an aisle shutting down the assembly line for 15 minutes.

“I had never had an accident all those years,” shared Chatman, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But they were waiting for me to make a mistake.”

Tesla alleges the termination stemmed from the incident, which the company says was “a serious safety violation.”

Tesla's Response

Along with Chatman’s claims, other former and current employees of Tesla have come forth detailing incidents that are just as bad as her experiences or even worse. The company issued a statement in which they deny all of the claims.

“Race plays no role in any of Tesla’s work assignments, promotions, pay or discipline,” said attorneys for the company in a statement. “Tesla prohibits discrimination, in any form.”