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California Civil Rights Law Group, has filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit in Lambert v. Tesla and the filing of its opening brief in the case. The civil rights attorneys are making an argument no other attorney has made before in any federal court. The lawsuit involves alleged civil rights violations involving racial discrimination and harassment at Telsa Motors, Inc., a manufacturer of electric vehicles in California.
According to the opening brief, which is available to the public at https://www.civilrightsca.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/378761372.pdf:
Several months ago, appellant DeWitt Lambert alleged extensive racial discrimination in his Complaint in federal court. He moved across the United States from Alabama to the Bay Area, believing that the move would offer him an opportunity to advance in his career. When he applied for, and was offered, a job with Tesla, Inc., an automobile manufacturing company that presents itself as progressive, he was thrilled. He eagerly accepted the job, signing a contract with Tesla. Included in Mr. Lambert’s contract was an arbitration provision. Unfortunately, in the course of his employment at Tesla, Mr. Lambert was subjected to a pattern of harassment and discrimination based on his African-American ancestry. The district court ruled that force him to arbitrate his claims, which would allow Tesla to hide its civil rights violations from public view.
The California Civil Rights Law Group is now appealing the district court decision. Its opening appeal brief argues that an employer cannot require an employee to arbitrate claims brought under a civil rights statute enacted in 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The law gives all persons the right to sue in federal court to protect their “enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms, and conditions of the contractual relationship” as is “enjoyed by white citizens.” § 1981(a), (b). The attorneys are arguing that lawsuits brought under this law must be heard in open court–and not forced into arbitration–on the basis of the text, legislative history, and purposes of the statute. This is an argument never made before in any federal court, and no federal court has ever ruled on this question. Interested persons, including journalists and bloggers, are encouraged to access the brief online, or reach out to California Civil Rights Law Group for additional information.
In addition, persons who feel that they may be encountering racial discrimination at work are urged to reach out to the Bay Area law firm for a free, private attorney consultation. It should be noted that the law firm maintains a robust website with general information, not only about racial discrimination but also other timely issues such as sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination. Succinct information on racial discrimination can be found at https://www.civilrightsca.com/race-discrimination/.