In recent events, Tesla Inc. has been hit with multiple discrimination and workplace harassment lawsuits stemming from conduct committed by supervisors toward black workers at its Fremont factory in California. Both Nevada and California have similarly strict laws on employer conduct in the workplace.
The claim was filed by Marcus Vaughn on behalf of a large class of black workers operating out of the Fremont plant. Vaughn alleges that black workers were directly addressed using racial slurs such as the n-word. He further alleges that this conduct was routine among both supervisors and co-workers. Vaughn further claims that he had spoken to human resources about the way black workers were being treated, but they never bothered to investigate.
Tesla fired Vaughn in October claiming that he had a “bad attitude.”
How to Handle Racial Discrimination in Your Workplace
The reason why a case like this is likely to succeed is due in large part to the fact that Mr. Vaughn filed a complaint in writing with HR before being terminated. If Mr. Vaughn had not filed this claim, it could have proven much more difficult for his lawyers to litigate. This is because Tesla would simply claim that the lawsuit was retaliation for being discharged.
Tesla, however, has a poor track record when it comes to workplace conduct toward minorities, the LGBT community, and even older Americans. It is further finding itself entrenched in a struggle by its workers to unionize. The UAW filed a complaint with Federal Labor Board against Tesla alleging that several employees who supported unionizing were laid off unjustly.
Proving Workplace Discrimination in Nevada
In Nevada, a plaintiff alleging discrimination will need to show that it is more likely than not that his or her employment was terminated due to discrimination. That implies that the burden of proof will be on the plaintiff to prove that discrimination was a primary motivating factor. For your legal team, this will generally break down into four steps.
- You need to be among a class of people protected by state law. Nevada’s laws are quite inclusive in regard to who constitutes a protected class.
- You were both qualified for the position and performing your duties in accordance with reasonable expectations.
- Your employer took an action against you.
- Your employer treated those not in your protected class differently.
Disproving Employer Pretext
Employers will almost always counter that the move to demote or fire an employee was taken for some other reason than simply because they were part of a protected class. Hence, the case often hinges on being able to prove that the employer’s explanation as to why an employee was fired is less likely than the employee’s explanation. This will mean that your lawyer will have to show that the employer’s explanation is only pretext and that your claim of discrimination is the real reason why you were fired.
In the case of Mr. Vaughn vs. Tesla Inc., Mr. Vaughn’s attorneys should be able to show that he was not alone in facing this kind of racial abuse. They should also be able to prove that he was terminated due to retaliation because he filed a complaint about it to his HR department.
Have You Been the Victim of Workplace Discrimination?
If so, Nevada state law is on your side. The Las Vegas branch of HKM Employment Law will be by your side every step of the way. We will ensure that your civil rights are being protected, even from your employer. Give us a call at (702) 625-3893 and we will discuss your case right away.