Forty four year-old DeWitt Lambert came from Alabama to start a new life at a dream job in California at Tesla’s Fremont Factory. Instead, he found himself working in a racially charged, sexually hostile and physically abusive environment.
Mr. Lambert, on a continuous basis from the summer of 2015 to the spring of 2016, was subjected by his co-workers on the assembly line, to racial slurs and lewd behavior. They would call him the N-word throughout his workday, talk about the size of his penis and even placed a drill gun into his buttocks.
Today, Lambert filed a 11-count suit in Alameda County Superior Court alleging Race Harassment, Race Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Retaliation, Failure to Prevent Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation, Threats of Violence in Violation of the Ralph Act, Violation of the Bane Act, Failure to Accommodate, Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process, and Assault and Battery.
“This was my dream job and it turned into a nightmare,” said DeWitt Lambert.
“When I began working at Tesla I was happier than I’ve ever been. Now, I’ve experienced discrimination worse than anything I experienced growing up in Alabama and I’m scared for my safety every evening when I leave the plant. I asked for help from Tesla’s management and it never came.”
In approximately October 2015, a video camera caught the daily harassment and violent threats taking place on Lambert’s iPhone:
Nigger, we take your ass home, nigger. Shred you up in pieces, nigger. Cut you up, nigger. Send your ass so everyone in yo family so everybody can have a piece of you, nigger. Straight up, nigger. We get down like that, nigger.
Larry Organ, attorney with The California Civil Rights Law Group, said, “the harassers went out of their way to document their racist and sexist behavior by leaving video recordings on Lambert’s phone even going so far as to say that they would cut him up into pieces and send the body parts to his family members.” Lambert has five children.
Despite Lambert’s pleas to get upper management and the human resources department to take appropriate action, nothing was done to prevent further racial harassment and discrimination and the abuse intensified. In fact his harassers were promoted and then supervised him.
“The complaint alleges that Tesla failed, under California law, to take immediate and appropriate corrective action on Mr. Lambert’s behalf,” said Organ. “Because of this inaction my client is claiming psychological harm and medical problems. Tesla is liable for Mr. Lambert’s damages because it failed to adequately investigate and prevent damaging abuse from taking place in the workplace.”
A copy of the lawsuit and the video in question are available HERE.