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Tesla claims that a civil rights organization is suing it for racial discrimination in an unconstitutional way.

tesla claims
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Tesla Claims

According to a petition filed Wednesday with California’s Office of Administrative Law, Tesla has accused the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) of neglecting to complete adequate investigations before suing the company for racial bias at its assembly facility (OAL) reported by TechCrunch

In February, the DFEH filed a lawsuit against Tesla, alleging racial discrimination and harassment at the company’s Fremont manufacturing. Tesla had been attempting to put the lawsuit on hold in order to settle allegations outside of court, something the automaker believes should have been an option before the DFEH filed suit.

According to Reuters, California Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said on Wednesday that delaying the lawsuit would be inappropriate. (A day before it was officially submitted, the news agency was the first to report on Tesla’s petition with the OAL.) Grillo did, however, consent to a hearing on August 23 for a demurrer motion, or a request to dismiss, based on the DFEH’s problematic methods, according to court papers.

In its response to Grillo’s decision not to grant the motion to stay the case, as well as in the petition filed with OAL, the automaker accuses DFEH of enacting “underground regulations” that ignore requirements it must meet before filing lawsuits against employers, such as providing fair notice of an investigation and assisting in the mediation of disputes before going to court.

Tesla may have a better chance in August, because the California Fair Employment and Housing Act support some, if not all, of Tesla’s assertions regarding how DFEH should have operated. 

As a result, the OAL petition appears to be a move by Tesla to limit the agency’s authority by requiring it to go through additional stages before prosecuting companies like Tesla.

Tesla claims that the DFEH neglected to give it notice of the “specifics” of its investigations before starting them, and that it didn’t offer facts to back up its conclusions against the company. The fact that the case was brought without first participating in “good faith conciliation and mediation” and that the litigation was filed on claims “not previously investigated and/or concerning which the employers were not provided pre-suit notice” appears to be a point of contention for the automaker.

The statute appears to suggest that the DFEH is supposed to conduct a prompt investigation into allegations of bias, but that the employer is not required to be informed of the investigation. The law does, however, state that the DFEH must “immediately endeavor to eliminate the unlawful employment practice complained of by conference, conciliation, and persuasion” before filing a civil action, and that “the department shall require all parties to participate in mandatory dispute resolution in the department’s internal dispute resolution division free of charge to the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without litigation.”

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Written by Kingsley odor

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