Black Ex-Tesla Employee Who Alleged Racial Discrimination Was Granted $137 Million

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Tesla Inc. has been ordered to pay almost $137 million to a Black Ex-Tesla Employee who claimed he was subjected to racial harassment at the electric carmaker’s facility in San Francisco Bay Area.

Owen Diaz was subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment, according to a jury in San Francisco.

Diaz said in a complaint that while working at Tesla’s Fremont factory in 2015 and 2016, he was harassed and subjected to “daily racial epithets,” including the “N-word.” Diaz worked as an elevator operator on a contract basis.

Employees allegedly drew swastikas and left racist graffiti and drawings throughout the factory, according to Diaz. Supervisors, he claimed, had failed to halt the torture.

The complaint claims that Tesla’s progressive image was a front to hide its regressive, degrading treatment of African-American employees.

According to his attorney, Lawrence A. Organ, Diaz was granted $6.9 million in mental distress damages and $130 million in punitive damages.

Diaz told the New York Times, “It took four difficult years to get to this point.” “It seems like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders.”

The Times quoted Organ of the California Civil Rights Law Group as saying, “It’s a fantastic thing when one of America’s wealthiest businesses has to face up to the awful conditions at its plant for Black people.”

It was unclear whether Tesla will appeal the judgment right away. Tesla did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press requesting a comment on Monday night.

Tesla, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the alleged racist behavior at the facility, which employs around 10,000 people.

The decision, if maintained, would be a setback for a corporation that has faced numerous claims of workplace misconduct but compels employees to address issues through forced arbitration, which the company has seldom lost.

An arbitrator ordered Tesla to pay more than $1 million in May after another former Fremont manufacturing worker made identical accusations. That employee claimed that coworkers called him a racist slur and that his concerns were ignored by managers.

Diaz did not require to sign an arbitration agreement since he was hired through a staffing agency.

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