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Tesla Accused of Discriminating Against Gay Employee

Christophe Ena
AP/Christophe Ena

Amidst similar reports of abuse, from pay disparities to racial slurs. 

Allegations surrounding LGBTQ and racial discrimination at American automaker Tesla surfaced Thursday morning. Former employee Jorge Ferro claimed he was harassed for being gay, while other female and black employees have reported similar abuse of unwanted advances, pay disparities, sexual harassment and racial slurs.

Ferro, 35, came forward this past week after over a year of alleged harassment at Tesla. Hired in April 2016, Ferro entered the company through a third-party staffing agency as an assembly line production worker. Upon arrival, he immediately experienced harassment from his supervisor Jamar Taylor, according to the lawsuit. The supervisor allegedly made homophobic slurs and threats at Ferro, daily, such as "watch your back," "something might happen to your car," and calling his clothes "too tight... gay tight," according to a statement to The Guardian.

Ferro says that he reported the harassment to his boss, Plant Manager Dave Rebagliati, but the harassment was not over--it was boiling under the surface. Shortly thereafter, Ferro was allegedly outed to many of his colleagues and was eventually fired by Rebagliati over a so-called "handicap" of having a scar on his wrist. The impediment seemed to be more Ferro's sexuality than the scar according to him, but it was the latter which was named as grounds for his termination.

Sinc being fired, Ferro has declined all interviews, vouching instead for a detailed written account of the incidents, which he wrote on Thursday to The Guardian.

In response, Tesla refuted the story, claiming, "There is no company on earth with a better track record than Tesla."

In a press statement to The Guardian, Tesla continued its defense, stating, "Every lawyer knows that if they name Tesla as a defendant in their lawsuit, it maximizes the chances of generating publicity for their case. They abuse our name, because they know it is catnip for journalists."

LGBTQ discrimination doesn't seem to be the only hate speech to echo its way through Tesla's halls. Earlier this month, another Tesla employee, Owen Diaz, filed a lawsuit against the luxury car company over similar discriminatory claims. Diaz, 49, and his son Demetric Diaz, 22, reported that they had also experience harassment from their supervisors, who spewed racial slurs and threats such as "All you fucking n*****s - I can't stand you motherf**kers" and "N****r, hurry up."

Diaz called this time at Tesla, "one of the lowest points in [his] life."

With Diaz, Tesla refuted the alleged discriminatory, writing, "[Owen's case was] timed to coincide with a carefully planned media blitz in an attempt to create a disingenuous narrative that was at odds with the facts."

Since Owen and Demetric Diaz came forward, in addition to client Jorge Ferro, attorney Chris Dolan reported that an "unusually high" number of discrimination cases have started surfacing at Tesla. "[This] sends a message to other employees that if you complain, you're the one who's going to have your job changed."

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