New lawsuit says Tesla covered up employee safety violations, ignored racial harassment

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SAN FRANCISCO — A former Tesla Inc. construction manager has filed a lawsuit against the EV company alleging he was fired for reporting widespread safety violations and race discrimination at Tesla’s factories.

In the lawsuit filed with Alameda County Superior Court on Friday, Marc Cage, an African American, claimed to have reported safety violations that risked massive explosions at Tesla’s battery factory in Nevada and systematic failures by the company to disclose serious on-the-job injuries.

“Tesla’s commitments to unrealistic production goals and frantic efforts to ramp up its production, often to make good on rash promises, overrode any commitment to employee safety,” the complaint says.

He also alleged that Tesla employees, with the full knowledge of the company’s management, denigrated and harassed him on the basis of his race.

“Virtually every restroom in Tesla’s Fremont facility contained writings or carvings of racist symbols and slurs, including swastikas and prominent displays of the n-word,” Cage said in his complaint.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

A California state agency earlier this month sued Tesla over allegations by some Black workers that they were subjected to racist slurs and drawings and assigned the most physically demanding jobs at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif.

That lawsuit, which Tesla said was “misguided,” said the company tolerated racial discrimination, adding to claims made in several other lawsuits against the world’s most valuable automaker.

Tesla and CEO Elon Musk have escalated a battle with regulators who have scrutinized his social media posts, the company’s treatment of its workers and its testing of semi-automated driving systems on public roads.

Musk on Tuesday accused the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of being a multi-layered “corruption onion.” A day earlier, the company had accused the agency of leaking information from a Tesla-related probe.

Tesla disclosed earlier this month that it had received a subpoena from the SEC about its compliance with a 2018 settlement over Musk’s tweets about taking the company private.

Last week, the company and Musk accused the SEC of harassing them with an investigation to punish Musk for being an outspoken critic of the government.

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