Tesla Ordered To Pay $130 Million To Former Worker

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Federal jury orders Tesla to pay more than $130 million in damages to black former worker for failing to stamp out racial hostility

Tesla has been ordered by a federal jury on Monday to pay an eye watering amount of money in damages to a black former worker at its California electric car factory.

It was back in January 2020, when Owen Diaz and his son Demetric Diaz slapped Tesla with a lawsuit, alleging they faced “severe and pervasive racial harassment” in 2015 and 2016, whilst working at Tesla’s factory in suburban Fremont, which employs more than 10,000 people.

Both plaintiffs are black, and alleged they were subjected to repeated racial epithets dozens of times, as well as racist cartoons, and that supervisors engaged in or did little to stop the racism.

Tesla - Shutterstock - © Hattanas Kumchai

Huge damages

Owen Diaz was a contract worker who worked at Tesla for 11 months as an elevator operator, while his son spent two months as a production associate.

Now on Monday, a federal jury on Monday ordered Tesla to pay more than $130 million in damages, when it found that Owen Diaz was subjected to a racially hostile work environment, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The federal jury reportedly decided that Tesla had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent Owen Diaz from being racially harassed, the WSJ reported.

It seems that racial slurs were reportedly heard on the factory floor and racist graffiti was seen in the bathrooms.

The car maker however reportedly said the three times that Diaz complained about harassment, Tesla stepped in and made sure action was taken by staffing agencies.

However that did not sway the jury, who according to the WSJ, awarded Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages.

“While we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognise that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect,” Tesla was quoted as saying.

Appeal likely

Tesla did not say whether it would be appealing the verdict, although given the size of the jury verdict, an appeal is highly likely.

Last November, CEO Elon Musk admitted that the period leading up to the launch of the Model 3 (in July 2017), finances at the firm were under severe strain.

Indeed, so much so that Musk admitted that Tesla came within “a month” of bankruptcy in the lead up to the mass production of the Model 3.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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