Tesla Inc. said on Wednesday it would fight a class-action lawsuit filed against it earlier this week claiming the electric automaker's California production plant was a "hotbed for racist behavior."
The lawsuit, filed on Monday by former Tesla worker Marcus Vaughn on behalf of a group of black workers at the plant, claimed that they were addressed using racial slurs and that the company ignored their complaints.
Tesla contested details of the lawsuit in a blog post on Tuesday and signaled it would fight it. Tesla also attacked the trial lawyer representing Vaughn.
"The trial lawyer who filed this lawsuit has a long track record of extorting money for meritless claims and using the threat of media attacks and expensive trial costs to get companies to settle," the blog post said. "At Tesla, we would rather pay ten times the settlement demand in legal fees and fight to the ends of the Earth than give in to extortion and allow this abuse of the legal system."
Vaughn had said in the lawsuit that he was routinely called the "n-word" by supervisors and coworkers after he began working at the factory in April, and that Tesla never investigated his claims following written complaints.
Tesla said it had investigated "disappointing behavior" several months ago involving a group of individuals who worked on or near Vaughn's team and fired three employees.
Monday's lawsuit was at least the third filed this year against Tesla by black workers who say the company ignored their complaints of racial harassment.
Vaughn in the lawsuit also said he was fired in October for "not having a positive attitude."
Tesla said in its blog post that Vaughn was not fired, he left when his six-month temporary contract had simply ended.
"Tesla is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind," said Tesla. "When we hear complaints, we take them very seriously, investigate thoroughly and, if proven to be true, take immediate action."