Tesla must pay $137 million in discrimination lawsuit

According to the Washington Post, Tesla was ordered to pay $137million in damages to a former Black worker. He claimed that Tesla turned a blind eye towards discrimination and racial abuse at its EV plant in Fremont California. Owen Diaz was an elevator operator who was a contract worker in 2015 and 2016, according to a San Francisco federal court jury.
Diaz claimed that he was discriminated against "straight from Jim Crow era," during which he was subject to racial slurs. Diaz claimed that Tesla employees had left graffiti, swastikas and offensive cartoons all around the plant while their supervisors failed to stop the abuse. According to the lawsuit, Tesla's progressive image was "a fake papering over its regressive and demeaning treatment of African Americans employees."

Diaz was awarded $6.9 Million for emotional distress. However, the jury also awarded $130,000,000 in punitive damages against Tesla. Lawrence Organ, Diaz's lawyer, stated that it was a good thing for one of America's most powerful corporations to be able to acknowledge the horrible conditions in its factory for Black people.

Diaz said to the New York Times that it took him four years to reach this point. It's almost like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

The verdict was dismissed by Tesla in a blog post written Valerie Capers Workman, human resources vice president. She wrote that Mr. Diaz was not the only witness. Three other witnesses, all non-Tesla employees, also testified at the trial that they heard racial slurs, including the N-word, on Fremont's factory floor. Although they all agreed that the N-word was inappropriate in the workplace they all also agreed that they believed the language was often used in friendly ways, usually by African-American colleagues.

Tesla said that the company was responsive to Mr. Diaz’s complaints and had fired two contractors and suspended another. She stated that although the verdict was not justified by the facts, Tesla was responsive to Mr. Diaz's complaints in 2015 and 2016. "But we have come far." The company has not yet indicated whether it intends to appeal.

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