FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - Discrimination allegations against Tesla were brought to light after a racist tirade was caught on camera.
DeWitt Lambert claims co-workers harassed, threatened and called him the N-word. Lambert says Tesla failed to prevent the harassment and retaliation and now he's suing the automobile company.
"It's not just the words, the words are bad enough, but it’s the violent suggestions that go along with those words," says lawyer Larry Organ of California Civil Rights Law Group.
Organ says his client told Tesla in 2015, he was being discriminated against. That's when the racially insensitive video was recorded inside Telsa's factory.
Lambert's own phone was used to record the alleged hate speech. Monday the California Civil Rights Law Group filed a lawsuit on Lambert's behalf against his employer Tesla for racial harassment and discrimination.
"We need to make it clear the use of the N-word in the work place is unacceptable. This is an issue that needs to be brought forward. Tesla had plenty of time to resolve and address these issues," says Organ.
Tesla has since released this statement:
"Based on interviews we have done, in April 2016, an employee named DeWitt Lambert got into an argument with a coworker and threatened him with violence. The other employee filmed DeWitt making the threat.”
Tesla says an investigation was done by its HR department interviewing all the employees in question.
The statement went on to say, "That investigation turned up conflicting accounts of what happened, with other employees saying that DeWitt had the "dirtiest mouth" they had "ever heard," including using the same racially insensitive language that he had complained about."
Tesla released a text conversation that the company says is between Lambert and one of the accused employees. In the message Lambert also used the N-word. Tesla later transferred Lambert to another department.
The company says it wasn't until July of 2016, that the racist rant video was brought to the their attention, and this was only after Lambert was receiving a written warning for posting proprietary photos of Tesla's equipment on social media, which is against the company policy.
Tesla admits before the investigation was complete. The HR representative who led the initial investigation left the company and didn't pass the findings on.
Since then, Tesla says it has terminated several employees based on what they've learned and suspended Lambert with pay while the company finishes investigating the text conversation were the company says Lambert also used the N-word.