Tesla may not drop US complaint alleging Black labor prejudice.

Thursday, a California federal court appeared prepared to deny Tesla's plea to dismiss a U.S. agency's complaint claiming the electric carmaker of allowing Black workers at its Fremont assembly facility to be harassed.

During a hearing in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley repeatedly argued with Tesla's lawyers that the EEOC failed to provide any evidence of systemic unlawful race bias in its lawsuit.

A 10-page lawsuit filed last year by the EEOC said that Black workers at the Tesla facility have been subjected to racist remarks and graffiti, including swastikas and nooses, from 2015 to the present, and Tesla has neglected to investigate complaints. A California civil rights agency and a class action on behalf of 6,000 Black workers are also suing Tesla, whose CEO is Elon Musk. The corporation denies all three charges.

At the hearing, Tesla lawyer Raymond Cardozo told Corley that the EEOC had failed to prove its charges were "plausible" and could proceed. Cardozo said the lawsuit does not name workers who allegedly faced prejudice or specify when or where in the workplace the misbehavior happened.

It's untrue "when someone is saying that every single person not of that race, from 2015 to 2024, discriminated against every single (Black) person," he added. "That's not what it's saying," said the judge. It says racism was pervasive and created a hostile workplace for Black workers. It may be false, but why not claim?"

The lawsuit alleges that an unidentified worker told the EEOC that an extremely derogatory racial slur was "both his white co-workers' and supervisors' preferred pronoun on the production line." Corley noted this paragraph.

"That you don't know his name doesn't mean it's not plausible," the judge remarked, adding that Tesla will learn more via discovery before trial. Tesla could not address the claimed discrimination without further details, Cardozo added.

Corley did not specify a ruling date. The court was also suspicious of Tesla's request to halt the case pending the class action and California agency litigation. The EEOC's lawsuit demands unspecified compensatory and punitive penalties for an undetermined number of Black workers and an order to modify Tesla's anti-discrimination and retaliation practices.

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