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Tesla ordered to pay $137 million in discrimination lawsuit

2021-10-05 18:16 by
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A San Francisco federal court decided that Tesla must pay a former worker, Owen Diaz, around $137 million after he endured racist abuse working for the company, his attorneys told CNBC on Monday. The jury awarded more than attorneys asked for their client, including $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress.

According to the New York Times, Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, claimed he was the target of racial abuse during his time at the company from 2015 to 2016. Diaz, who is Black, said coworkers and a supervisor often referred to him using a racial slur.

Diaz also claimed other factory workers repeatedly drew racial images on bathroom stalls that included swastikas, a racial epithet and caricatures of Black children, according to the Times. Diaz felt Tesla did not do enough to stop the behavior at their factory.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but Valerie Capers Workman, Tesla's vice president of people, published a blog post that appeared to downplay the allegations in Diaz's lawsuit.

"In addition to Mr. Diaz, three other witnesses (all non-Tesla contract employees) testified at trial that they regularly heard racial slurs (including the N-word) on the Fremont factory floor," Workman wrote. "While they all agreed that the use of the N-word was not appropriate in the workplace, they also agreed that most of the time they thought the language was used in a 'friendly' manner and usually by African-American colleagues."

Earlier this year, Tesla paid another plant worker, Melvin Barry, $1 million after he said his supervisors did not take action after he was called a racial slur. Berry, who is Black, also reported that drawings of swastikas and racist graffiti were at the plant in addition to his co-workers' regular use of racially charged language.

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