Texas workers may not be surprised to hear about discrimination against employees taking place at large companies. Workers at a Tesla auto manufacturing plant have spoken out about alleged abuses that they have faced. Black employees have claimed that they feel like they are working in the Jim Crow era. Another worker on the assembly line at the California facility said that he was mocked with a derogatory sexual slur about his clothing.
For its part, Tesla said that there was not a single proven case of discrimination in the company's history. However, it did say that it took all complaints seriously. Four lawsuits have been filed against the company in the past few months, and the plaintiffs allege that the company and others that it contracted with did nothing to stop employee mistreatment. Some say that they faced retaliation after they came forward with their claims.
One man says that racial slurs were used against him and that he had gang signs flashed at him. Tesla countered by claiming that he also used insensitive language and that he had interacted with those who he claimed had harassed him. However, the company had also acknowledged that those who had been involved in such behavior toward that worker had been disciplined. The man's legal counsel pointed out that the discipline implies that harassment had occurred.
As a general rule, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If a worker has been subject to rude comments, sexual advances or other forms of harassment, the employer may be liable for damages. Employers may also be liable for damages if a worker is retaliated against for making a claim of harassment. Retaliation may include terminating or demoting a worker immediately after making a claim despite a positive work record.