Three black former Tesla workers have filed a lawsuit against the automotive and energy storage company for racial bias and harassment. Depositions for the case are set to begin later this month, Bloomberg reported.
Former Tesla contractors Owen Diaz, Demetric Diaz and Lamar Patterson claim they experienced racial hostility while working at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, according to an October 2017 Fortune report.
Owen and Demetric, father and son, allege in the lawsuit that Demetric's supervisors hurled racist statements like, "All you f***ing n***ers," Bloomberg reported. Owen told Bloomberg that the racist statements made him feel helpless.
“It made me feel like I was less than a man,” Owen Diaz said. “I couldn’t do anything.”
Owen and Demetric were contractors at Tesla who worked with firms West Valley Staffing Group and Citistaff Solutions. They are suing all three firms who have denied the allegations, Bloomberg reported.
Tesla said they take all forms of discrimination and harassment "extremely seriously," in an email statement sent to Bloomberg.
"We will never be able to stop every single person in the factory from engaging in inappropriate conduct, but we will continue to do everything that we can to encourage the right behavior and to take action whenever something bad happens," the company wrote.
Demetric said he experienced racial bias during his employment between August 2015 and October 2016, Fortune reported. Tesla told Fortune that Demetric allegedly didn't file a formal complaint during his employment.
"In situations where Tesla is at fault, we will never seek to avoid responsibility," the company wrote in an email statement to Fortune. "But in this instance, from what we know so far, this does not seem to be such a case."
Owen and Demetric claim Owen confronted a supervisor after he saw racist caricatures drawn on bathroom stalls and after he was told to "go back to Africa." Owen also kept a copy of a picture of a racist drawing.
The father-son duo alleges that a supervisor dismissed the concerns, asking "why do you people take things so hard?" West Valley terminated Demetric's job, and Owen quit after Citistaff demoted him, Bloomberg reported.
Demetric told Fortune that he was fired after the complaints of racist behaviors were made to a supervisor.
As contract employees, Demetric and Owen weren't required to settle disputes through binding arbitration. A federal trial is scheduled to start in 2019, Bloomberg reported.