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Tesla Is a ‘Hotbed for Racist Behavior,’ Lawsuit Says

Internal email from Elon Musk says it’s “important to be thick-skinned” and accept apologies

Tesla Inc. is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” according to a new class action lawsuit filed against the Silicon Valley car company.

Former Tesla employee Marcus Vaughn filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of more than 100 African-Americans working at the company’s Fremont, Calif., production plant. The claim seeks unspecified punitive monetary damages and for Tesla to add more policies to combat workplace harassment.

Vaughn — who worked for the company from April 23 to Halloween — said supervisors routinely used the “N word” in front of black workers. Vaughn said he sent complaints to the human resources department, as well as CEO Elon Musk, but was fired on Oct. 31 for not having a “positive attitude.”

The lawsuit included an internal email from Musk to Tesla employees on May 31, with the exec weighing in on workplace misbehavior.

“Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group,” wrote Musk. “Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The case is the third this year claiming anti-black discrimination against the auto manufacturer. An October lawsuit by ex-Tesla employee Owen Diaz said the coworkers called him the “N word” and shared derogatory cartoons.

Compounding matters for Tesla, a New Yorker piece on Monday featured a former female employee who said she didn’t receive a promotion due to gender discrimination.