An employee accuses Tesla of racial discrimination and sexual harassment

By Shanice Harris | Apr 13, 2017

FREMONT — DeWitt Lambert recently filed an 11-count suit against Tesla alleging racial harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment and other charges.

Lambert had moved to California in 2012 to take a new position at Tesla. He transferred from department to department until he was hired as a production associate in 2015. Lambert claims that in 2015 and 2016, his co-workers often made racial slurs towards him and made inappropriate comments about his sexual prowess. In 2015, Lambert allegedly recorded the harassment on his phone, which documented someone using a racial slur against him.

Lambert alleges that he complained to management several times about the behavior, but nothing was done. He claims the alleged perpetrators were rewarded for their behavior. 

“We believe strongly in having a good working environment, and that people should look forward to coming to work every day," a Tesla spokesperson told the Northern California Record. "That means Tesla must always aspire to be transparent, respectful, fair and just. When we hear complaints or concerns raised by our employees, we take them very seriously. A video recently came to light showing behavior by a group of employees at our factory acting in a way that we found disappointing and contrary to our values. It appears that a lawsuit is now being filed against Tesla in connection with this video.”

Tesla claims that in April 2016, Lambert got in an argument with a co-worker and threatened him with violence. The other employee filmed Lambert making the threats. Tesla alleges that Lambert filed a complaint with human resources in an attempt to change the narrative.

“Dewitt filed a complaint with HR about these other employees, claiming it was they who had mistreated him, including by using racially insensitive language,” Tesla said. “HR personnel investigated, interviewing all of the employees who were reportedly involved. That investigation turned up conflicting accounts of what happened.”

According to Tesla’s interviews, Lambert's co-workers claimed he was very vulgar and he often used the same racially insensitive language that he was complaining about. 

“Although DeWitt continued to have regular interaction with HR on a host of topics for which he thanked them for their support, we have no evidence indicating that he came to HR with any further complaints of this nature," Tesla said. "Then, through an attorney, Dewitt submitted a letter six months later demanding a very large payment or he would file a lawsuit.” 

Lambert and his attorneys are still seeking damages. Tesla has suspended Lambert with pay until its investigation is final.

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