Tesla Giga New York Faces Racism Allegations


Tesla Giga New York employees allege they have routinely faced racism while working at the plant in Buffalo, NY, since the facility opened years ago.

Gigafactory New York has been the site of controversy recently. Tesla terminated a number of employees as part of a performance review cycle, including one who was part of an active unionization campaign. A complaint was filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board against the EV maker for allegedly striking back at unionization efforts.

Per a recent report from the Investigative Post, a number of Black employees at Giga New York have also come forward about their alleged experiences at the plant. Seven current and former Tesla employees said the racist treatment they received ranged from offensive remarks to being passed over for promotions regularly.


Among those interviewed by the publication, four claimed they were passed over for promotions at least 20 times. The employees said as production associates, they worked on numerous manufacturing lines, and at times, they supervised the work of other employees. The employees said when they attempted to get a promotion, they were generally unsuccessful.

As an example, two Black employees who were assigned to work on a new battery line reportedly performed very well, to the point they wrote an instruction manual on how the line should work. When they approached Human Resources for a potential reward for their work, the men were reportedly denied. After this, one of the men claimed, he was sent to another area of Giga New York to pack boxes.

Eventually, a job was opened for the line the men knew how to run, so both applied. One was asked to pass an engineering test and sit through an unusually extended interview before getting denied. The other did not even reach the interview stage. It was only after the line was shut down and restarted that one of the men was given a chance to have a more senior position.

“I don’t think there’s a clear structure. Did they even get my application? Did they look at it? Are they not hiring anymore? They don’t tell you anything,” one of the men said.


Five employees also alleged Giga New York managers had asked groups of Black workers not to speak in groups, due to optics. “People will, two or three people, gather and have a conversation. The minute the Black men gather, (management says) ‘Oh, you guys can’t group up like that. You know, it looks like a gang,'” an employee claimed.

The employees alleged this type of treatment seemed specific to Black workers, and other workers of color do not experience the same treatment.

This reportedly became particularly uncomfortable following the Tops Friendly Market shooting in Buffalo in May 2022. After the tragedy, some Giga New York workers wanted to attend a vigil during work hours. Management allowed the workers to attend the vigil without pay, but when the workers returned, Giga New York management reportedly assumed the Black workers were talking about forming a union. Tesla reportedly brought in an official to talk to the plant’s leadership about avoiding a union.

Amidst the allegations, the Giga New York employees did say there have been some positive changes in the facility. This included the arrival of a new production manager, Adetope Ogunniyi, who used to work at the company’s Nevada facility. Ogunniyi has reportedly made positive changes, and she has done what she can to ensure qualified Black employees are granted interviews and promotions. Despite her efforts, however, issues are reportedly still present.

“She’s trying to make changes. But, you know, they’re slow in coming,” one of the workers said.

We thank Teslarati for reprint permission.

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