FREMONT (KPIX 5) – A worker at the Tesla factory in Fremont is suing the electric car maker after he said he was a victim of racial discrimination and harassment from his co-workers.
DeWitt Lambert, a 44-year-old African-American, says he was “subjected to racial slurs and lewd behavior” from co-workers for more than a year including being called the n-word.
Lambert said it all happened on the assembly line and that he has evidence: a video from 2015 showing employees flashing gang signs, rapping about cutting Lambert up in pieces and sending body parts to his family.
He complained to Tesla H.R., but says his concerns weren’t properly addressed.
In a statement emailed to KPIX 5, the company said Lambert’s claim had been investigated.
“HR personnel investigated, interviewing all of the employees who were reportedly involved,” the statement said. “That investigation turned up conflicting accounts of what happened … In the end, there was no objective evidence that anything inappropriate occurred toward Dewitt.”
In the meantime, according to the suit, many of the workers accused of harassing him were promoted while he was not.
In the statement, Tesla has countered the claim.
“This is false,” the statement redad. “Dewitt was promoted 12 months ago, and the reason he wasn’t given a second promotion within 12 months is that, among other things, he had been given a final written warning for posting pictures of confidential Tesla technology on Facebook in clear violation of company policy.”
Lambert is suspended with full pay while Tesla investigates, but the automaker has refuted the contents of that lawsuit.
In a statement to TechCrunch, the company said, “the lawsuit has been timed to coincide with a carefully planned media blitz in an attempt to create a disingenuous narrative that is at odds with the facts.”
Tesla’s statement went on to say Lambert had socialized outside of work with the accused employees and that he used “the same racially insensitive language that he had complained about.”
They feel the incident had been taken out of context.