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California Supreme Court Blocks Tesla’s Bid to Stop Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Electric carmaker Tesla continues to face an uphill battle against racial discrimination claims from workers at its Fremont factory. In the most recent update, the California Supreme Court blocked Tesla’s petition to have a lower court’s decision in the case reviewed. 

This unanimous refusal to review upholds the First District Court of Appeal’s decision to permit the plaintiffs to sue the company rather than attend private arbitration. As such, the two Black employees from Tesla’s Fremont plant can pursue their claim in a public venue with the possibility to appeal, which is not the case during arbitration.

Just as importantly, the state Supreme Court’s dismissal makes the appellate court’s decision a legally binding precedent statewide. This is crucial because the First District Court of Appeal permitted the plaintiffs to request a public injunction against Tesla. This injunction orders Tesla to change its workplace practices to educate and prevent racism in the workplace. 

This is a landmark bit of precedent for workers in California. While injunctions like this were theoretically possible under the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Supreme Court had not yet issued or upheld them. As such, the plaintiffs and the First District Court of Appeal have broken new ground for workers facing discrimination statewide. 

In fact, the entire case is good news for employees suffering harassment. The focused attention these courts are directing toward Tesla’s behavior and the refusal to permit the company to hide the matter behind confidential arbitration proceedings are signs of a renewed commitment to fair employment practices. Here’s what you can take away from the injunction, how a single claim can set long-lasting employment law precedent, and what to do if you’re suffering harassment at work. 

Why the Public Injunction Against Tesla Matters

Injunctions are court orders requiring a legal entity to do or halt certain actions. Common examples of injunctions directed toward companies include orders to stop false advertising or unfair business practices. While injunctions regarding labor violations have technically been permitted under FEHA for years, they have never yet been ordered and upheld in California. 

That changes with the Court’s decision not to review the Tesla case. Previously hypothetical options have become real possibilities for workers who face workplace discrimination. While the plaintiffs have not yet received an injunctive order, the Court could order things like:

  • Mandatory workplace anti-discrimination training
  • Audits of facility practices and behavior
  • Reviews of hiring and promotion practices
  • Alterations to unfair and unjust protocols

Failing to abide by an injunction can have serious legal consequences. Most orders include specific penalties based on the type of violation. For example, a company that violates an injunction could face heavy fines. Additionally, violating injunctions is often considered a sign of bad faith, making future civil lawsuits against the business for related matters more likely to succeed.

Are You Facing Racial Harassment at Work?

Cases like those of the Tesla workers are all too common in California. Despite legal protections against racial discrimination, many businesses still perpetuate unfair hiring and employment practices. Discriminatory practices may include:

  • Refusing to hire someone because of their race
  • Failing to give people of certain races the same training or opportunities for advancement
  • Refusing to promote people of certain races
  • Giving people lower annual reviews because of their race
  • Segregating the workplace by giving people of different races different tasks

Harassment is also unfortunately common. Racial harassment at work can look like this:

  • Permitting “jokes” about race
  • Singling someone out because of their race
  • Touching someone without their consent
  • Allowing decorations that include slurs or racial caricatures
  • Making threats or assaulting people

You may be in a hostile workplace if any of these issues sound familiar. If so, you have the right to take legal action against your employer to pursue fair treatment and compensation for your losses.

How One Claim Makes a Difference

Even if you know you’re being harassed, you may hesitate to file a claim. Many people believe that a single lawsuit can’t make a difference. This simply isn’t true. The legal scrutiny Tesla currently faces is a prime example of how one person speaking out can make a world of difference for thousands of people. 

For example, the two plaintiffs whose case led to the injunction were inspired by a prior racial discrimination lawsuit against the carmaker. In that case, one man filed a claim against the company, highlighting the horrible conditions Black workers experienced at the plant. His claim took years to complete, but he has been awarded millions in emotional and punitive damages for his case. 

Furthermore, he inspired the plaintiffs whose case has set a precedent for injunctions in California employment cases. They could go on to win a class-action lawsuit against the company, achieving justice for thousands of workers. 

This demonstrates how important one person can be. If you’ve experienced racial bias at work, you’re almost certainly not alone. Your case may not just benefit you – it could help others receive better working conditions for years to come. 

Do You Have an Employment Harassment Claim?

If you think you may be in a hostile workplace, don’t hesitate to get help. The sooner you consult with an experienced employment attorney, the sooner you can receive the working conditions you’re owed under the law. At the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C., we have decades of experience fighting on behalf of workers just like you. We understand how to hold big businesses accountable and have the resources to fight on your behalf, no matter how long it takes. Get in touch today to learn how we can help you stand up to discrimination and pursue compensation for your suffering.