A black former quality manager at electric car maker Tesla — who says he previously worked as a military contractor and was traumatized after severe injuries from an explosion in Afghanistan — claimed in a lawsuit that white co-workers tortured him with ringtones that sounded like incoming missile warnings, among other violations. race based.
Marcellous Cage claimed in his lawsuit against Tesla that the company fired him on racial grounds and because he reported life-threatening safety violations at the factory.
“Mr. Cage was fired for two reasons: his commitment to safety and his race,” the suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court alleged.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a number of similar race-based lawsuits, including one filed in February by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which claimed that black workers at the company’s Fremont facility were paid less than white workers, and were denied Progress, they encounter daily racism. Abuse, including a noose in the bathroom next to a reference to lynching and racial slur. In October, a jury in federal court in San Francisco awarded a former black worker nearly $137 million after he sued Tesla over his experience of “everyday racist nicknames” in the workplace where co-workers painted swastikas and left racist graffiti and graffiti around the facility. .
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cage’s and other lawsuits alleging that Tesla allowed racism to spread at its facilities.
In his lawsuit filed last month, Cage said Tesla hired him in November 2018 as a project quality manager, tasking him with creating and launching quality control and inspection programs for construction work. According to the suit, he worked at both the Fremont plant and the Tesla battery plant in Nevada.
About a month after his appointment, at the Nevada facility, Cage noticed that the White Tesla contractor he was working with had a phone ringtone that sounded like a missile warning Cage had encountered while working in Afghanistan, the lawsuit alleges. “Mr. Cage calmly explained, in the presence of several of his co-workers, that hearing this particular tone was so disturbing to him that he had been critically injured in explosions in Afghanistan two different times, according to the suit. The suit alleged that the man refused Cage’s request to change the tone,” and chose Rather malicious… he kept the tone for the sole purpose of torturing Mr. Cage.” The lawsuit then alleged that White Tesla’s supervisor and several other white workers had set their phones to the same tone, “just to harass Mr. Cage.”
At the Fremont plant, swastikas and the n-word were carved and scribbled in employee bathrooms throughout Cage’s tenure, with Tesla taking no action, and similar racial symbols were routinely recorded in portable toilets at the Nevada plant, the suit alleged.
The lawsuit alleges that Cage has been subjected to hostile and racist treatment since starting his career at Tesla. During his first two weeks, a white supervisor accused Cage—one of two black workers on a 30-person team—of stealing posters from him. Instead of asking about the labels, the man and several other workers broke into Cage’s locked filing cabinet “on a vigilante mission to search for the missing labels,” the lawsuit alleges. The suit alleged that Cage complained to senior officials who took no action. When Cage stopped working on a project that did not comply with regulations, a Tesla contractor threatened to beat him and called him a “boy,” the lawsuit alleges. In another alleged incident, the lawsuit alleges that Cage’s manager, who questioned his expense report, made racist references to barbecue.
Cage also alleged that Tesla management failed to correct several serious safety violations because “Tesla’s commitments to unrealistic production targets and frantic efforts to ramp up its production, often to deliver on reckless promises, have outpaced any commitment to employee safety.”
Government data shows that the company, which was formerly based in Palo Alto until the recent switch to Texas, was fined more than $140,000 last year for 22 worker safety violations related to accidents and complaints at the Fremont plant.
In his lawsuit, Cage alleged that Tesla did not properly track worker injuries, and when Cage reported the problem to management, the company blamed employees for not reporting their injuries, the lawsuit alleges.
While Cage was working at the Fremont plant, he discovered that unqualified inspectors from a contractor had been examining “critical construction items” for more than two years, keeping Tesla out of compliance with state and local laws, the suit alleged. The suit alleged that “Tesla ignored the issues raised by Mr. Cage, and even engaged the same company for further inspections shortly thereafter.”
In early 2020, Cage was assigned administrative work in a move by Tesla “intentionally designed to silence any future reporting by Mr. Cage,” the suit alleged. “The construction manager even told him bluntly before the transfer: ‘Do not report any other deficiencies’.”
Later that year, Cage was “deeply upset to learn that several Tesla employees were seriously injured as a result of safety code violations,” and his report escalated to the company’s top leaders, the lawsuit alleged. He was expelled three months later, according to the lawsuit.
Cage is seeking unspecified damages.
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