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Racial and sexual harassment claim is a problem for Tesla

When you report racial and sexual harassment by your co-workers, the last thing you'd probably expect is to have those same co-workers promoted and given supervisory powers over you.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what one Tesla employee, an engineer, reports happened to him.

The African-American employee moved from Alabama to California in 2012 to take the job with Tesla. Just a month into the job, his coworkers began using racial slurs to harass him and then made jokes about sexual stereotypes associated with African-American males, including his penis size. They also, on at least one occasion, put a drill gun between his buttocks while he was bent over working on something.

As if that wasn't enough, coworkers also took his cellphone and recorded racist, lewd videos on it. They also discussed cutting up his body and sending the piece to his family.

The horror show he was dealing with only got worse when he went to Tesla's HR department with his complaints. Somehow, his harassers, who were all significantly younger than the 44-year-old electrician, were promoted above him -- forcing him to report directly to his tormentors on a daily basis.

He eventually was able to transfer to another line but the campaign to punish him seemed far from over. He was reported for eating a candy bar on the production floor even though doughnuts were passed around just a couple of days earlier. He was disciplined for posting a Facebook selfie while inside the plant, although other employees did the same thing all the time.

Tesla disputes the claim and says that the allegations were an attempt by the employee to cover his own abusive behavior and racially charged language. Tesla admits it should have continued investigating, but maintains that the electrician threatened a coworker with violence. They've fired several employees over the whole issue and placed the complaining employee on paid leave while the company continues investigating.

The employee's complaints might be more easily dismissed if another employee hadn't recently made allegations about the plant regarding unsafe working conditions, mandatory overtime, unfair pay and promotions and union-busting activity.

Anyone who has experienced the distress of a hostile work environment based on racial or sexual harassment would be well-advised to speak with an attorney about the possibility of a case.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Tesla Employee Claims Racial, Sexual Harassment," Helen Christophi, March 28, 2017

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