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Elon Musk’s Tesla Sued Over Alleged Racist And Homophobic Abuse

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on :
Elon Musk’s Tesla Sued Over Alleged Racist And Homophobic Abuse
Elon Musk’s Tesla Sued Over Alleged Racist And Homophobic Abuse (Alamy)

A Black gay woman is suing Tesla for harassment, after she alleged that a co-worker was racially abusive and assaulted her.

On Tuesday, February 1, Kaylen Barker filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk's vehicle manufacturing company, alleging assault and abuse at her place of work.

The former factory worker claims Tesla failed to address an issue between herself and another worker who allegedly racially insulted and physically assaulted her.

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Tesla garage. (Alamy)
Tesla garage. (Alamy)

Barker worked for the company between February and October 2021, Business Insider reports. Alongside suing Tesla, she is also suing Staffmark, a staffing company.

Barker has not only claimed that the company failed to address the alleged abuse she suffered, but that upon reporting it Tesla even retaliated against her.

She stated: 'I was violated physically, mentally, and emotionally because I am an African American lesbian.'

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Barker's alleged attacker is named as Joanne in the lawsuit. According to Barker, the abuse began when she received a promotion. She claimed when she walked past Joanne the worker said the N-word under her breath.

The lawsuit alleges that no action was taken by the company against Joanne, despite Barker having repeatedly reported her co-worker's behaviour.

A Tesla car being made in the factory (Alamy)
A Tesla car being made in the factory (Alamy)

In September, Barker alleges that Joanne called her the N-word for a second time, while also throwing a hot grinding tool at her when Barker asked her to step away from a piece of machinery out of concern for her safety. Barker claims the tool hit her thigh.

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Joanne was apparently fired after Barker reported the incident, but the lawsuit says Joanna was rehired just two weeks later.

Barker herself was reportedly put under investigation after the incident, which led to her allegedly having to state she had been 'insubordinate' on a document, and go for meetings on a 'near-daily basis' in mid-September.

The former worker claims that she lost around five hours of pay on the days she had a meeting as she would be sent home for the afternoon. The suit states that Barker was eventually fired on October 29 and that her payslips from her final month of work were withheld by the company.

Former Tesla Worker Suing Company. Credit: Alamy
Former Tesla Worker Suing Company. Credit: Alamy
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In August 2021, Tesla was ordered to pay $1 million to a Black former worker named Melvin Berry after he claimed that supervisors called him the N-word.

In October 2021, Tesla was also sued for racial harassment by a former elevator operator named Owen Diaz. Tesla were ordered to pay Diaz $137 million in damages by a jury.

The head of HR at the time, Valerie Capers Workman, responded to the verdict by stating: 'The Tesla of 2015 and 2016 (when Mr Diaz worked in the Fremont factory) is not the same as the Tesla of today.'

Diaz was represented by J. Bernard Alexander III, who will also represent Barker.

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If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website

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Poppy Bilderbeck

Poppy Bilderbeck is a Junior Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from The University of Manchester in 2021 with a First in English Literature and Drama, where alongside her studies she was Editor-in-Chief of The Tab Manchester. She currently runs the mental health column for UNILAD, and is such a crisp fanatic that the office has now been forced to release them in batches.

Topics: Technology, Elon Musk, Tesla, US News