Tesla wants to pause a federal agency’s lawsuit against the automaker for racial bias against its Black workers at its Fremont assembly plant.
The electric vehicle maker, in a filing in San Francisco federal court Monday, accused the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of rushing to file a lawsuit in September against Tesla as part of a “toxic interagency competition” with a California civil rights agency that sued the automaker for similar reasons last year.
The EEOC’s lawsuit details accounts from Black workers enduring casual use of slurs and epithets such as variations of the N-word, “monkey,” “boy,” and “black bitch,” as well as racist graffiti calling for violence against Black people, among other forms of abuse.
Both the EEOC and the California Civil Rights Department’s claims against Tesla include similar examples of harassment from Black workers.
Tesla also faces a proposed class action that alleges racial harassment filed by workers in 2017.
The EEOC’s lawsuit includes a claim that Tesla also broke a federal law banning workplace race discrimination and harassment.
Tesla wants the federal court to decline to open a third lawsuit until the existing cases are resolved.
Tesla is calling on the Colorado River abstention doctrine, which is a legal principle that would allow a federal court to abstain from hearing a case if there’s a parallel proceeding happening in state court that covers the same issues.
Tesla refers to a turf war between the EEOC and the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) and claims that, historically, the two agencies have worked together so that entities wouldn’t be subject to the same litigation.
Tesla has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in its multiple cases of racial discrimination. It is also appealing a $3.2 million award granted to a Black former contractor at the Fremont plant in a separate race bias lawsuit.