A former Tesla employee won a million-dollar award from the carmaker when the arbitrator found that the company did not prevent his superiors from inviting him to race, Bloomberg’s law reported. Melvin Berry, who is black, was hired at the Tesla plant in Alameda, California in 2015. He said his supervisor called him N-word and took revenge by forcing him to work longer and do more physically demanding work when Berry confronted him. Tesla has denied the allegations.
Arbitrator Elaine Rushing said in a May 12 verdict that Tesla is responsible for the harassment described by Berry. Bloomberg. “It is clear from the case law that one case of a supervisor directing an N word to a subordinate is sufficient to constitute serious harassment,” Rushing wrote. And he wrote, the supervisor who wrote Berry a warning letter lacked credibility.
Tesla argued that there was no written evidence that Berry had complained that the supervisors would call him the N-word and that he left the company voluntarily, the arbitrator’s ruling shows.
Arbitration proceedings between employers and employees are generally considered confidential, but Bloomberg said Berry’s attorney filed a standard petition in court to enforce the arbitrator’s decision, which revealed the decision. Lawyer Lawrence Organ said Bloomberg that Berry will not pursue legal action because Tesla has paid the award.
Berry is not the first employee to claim racism at Tesla’s Fremont plant. In 2017, a former assembly worker Marcus Vaughn sued Tesla said the company had not investigated his written complaint that co-workers and supervisors had called him an N-word. Vaughn called the Fremont institution “the basis of racist behavior”. Tesla said in a statement at the time, Vaughn’s lawsuit was a “source of misinformation”. In April, an Alameda County judge rejected the company’s request to prevent Vaughn from filing a class action lawsuit.
The email sent to Tesla requesting comment was not answered immediately on Thursday; Tesla dissolved its press office last year and usually does not respond to media inquiries.