Tesla accuses civil rights agency of unlawfully suing for racial discrimination – TechCrunch


Tesla accused the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) of failing to conduct proper investigations before suing Tesla for racial bias at its assembly plant, according to a petition filed Wednesday with the California Bureau of administrative law (OAL).

The DFEH filed a lawsuit in February against Tesla for alleged racial discrimination and harassment of employees at the company’s Fremont plant. Tesla had attempted to stay the lawsuit to settle the claims out of court, which the automaker said should have been an option before the DFEH resorted to a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, California Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said it would be inappropriate to suspend the trial, according to Reuters. (The news agency was also first to report on Tesla’s OAL petition a day before it was officially filed.) However, according to court filings, Grillo agreed to schedule a hearing on August 23 for a motion to oppose or a motion to dismiss, based on the questionable practices of the DFEH.

The automaker accuses DFEH – in its response to Grillo’s decision not to grant the motion to stay the case and in the motion filed with the OAL – of adopting “underground regulations” that do not hold consider the requirements it must make before taking legal action against employers, such as giving the employer reasonable notice of an investigation and participating in dispute mediation before going to court.

Tesla may have better luck in August, since California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act supports some, if not all, of the automaker’s claims about how DFEH should have conducted itself. However, sources familiar with the law told TechCrunch that the OAL petition is unlikely to have an effect on Tesla’s case, largely because it should have been submitted before the case began.

The OAL petition therefore appears to be a move by Tesla to temper the agency’s authority by insisting that it take additional steps before suing employers like Tesla.

screenshot of OAL tesla petition

Screenshot of a petition filed with the California Office of Administrative Law on Tesla’s behalf. Image credit: Tech Crunch

Specifically, Tesla claims that the DFEH did not inform the automaker of the “details” of its investigations before launching those investigations, and did not provide information to support its findings against Tesla. The automaker also appears to take issue with the fact that the lawsuit was filed without first engaging in “good faith conciliation and mediation”, and that the lawsuit was filed over claims “not subject to prior investigation and/or of which employers were not informed before”. – notice of prosecution.

The law seems to indicate that the DFEH is required to promptly investigate allegations of bias, but not that it must necessarily notify the employer of an investigation. However, the wording of the law states that the DFEH shall “immediately endeavor to eliminate the unlawful employment practice denounced by conference, conciliation and persuasion”, and that before initiating a civil action, ” the department shall require all parties to participate in mandatory dispute resolution within the department’s internal dispute resolution division, at no cost to the parties, with the goal of resolving the dispute without litigation.”

The DFEH could not be reached in time for comment.

The OAL has 60 days to accept or reject a petition based on certain criteria. But again, it’s unclear if accepting this petition will help Tesla’s cause in this particular case, as it’s already underway. The OAL did not respond in time to comment.

The DFEH lawsuit against Tesla is one of many lawsuits pending in California courts that accuse the automaker of condoning discrimination and sexual harassment at its factories.

A California judge this week moved closer to settling a case with former Tesla elevator operator Owen Diaz, who alleged rampant racist treatment and harassment during the nine months he worked at the factory. of Fremont. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco told Diaz he had two weeks to accept Tesla’s $15 million payment, a far cry from the $137 million a jury previously had. granted to Diaz.

Tech

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