Tesla is the sore loser of a $137 million racism lawsuit

Tesla was ordered to pay $136.9 Million in a racial discrimination suit. This is a huge judgment that could be the largest of its kind in the U.S. Tesla has some words to say.
Owen Diaz, a former Tesla contractor who started working for the company in 2015, brought the suit. Diaz was hired as an elevator operator at a Fremont factory. A San Francisco court found that Tesla had ignored his claims.

Diaz claimed that he was subject to offensive racial taunts and the use of the N word. He also said that Tesla employees had drawn derogatory racist caricatures in the workplace. These incidents caused Diaz to lose his appetite and unable to sleep, which led to him losing weight.

A federal jury ruled in Diaz’s favor this week. It found that Tesla made him feel racially harmed, did not take reasonable steps to stop him being subject to racial harassment and was negligent in supervising employees who hurt him. Diaz received a $136.9million judgment, which included $6.9 Million for emotional distress and $130,000,000 in punitive damages.

Tesla's $136.9 Million is still a small amount considering it was worth more than $800 billion in January. NPR's Larry Organ, Diaz' lawyer, said that he believes it is the largest award in a case of racial harassment involving one plaintiff in the U.S. and should encourage employers to be more aware of racism in the workplace.

Organ said, "Owen, and I hope that this sends out a message to corporate America that you look at your workplace, and if there are any problems, take proactive steps to protect employees from racist conduct."

Tesla isn’t going to accept the jury’s official racism finding. Since then, the company has sent a note to employees stating its belief in its innocence. It posted it on its official blog Monday.

Tesla made the observation that Diaz was a contractor and not an employee. This was in response to being denied work.

"Mr. Diaz wrote complaints to his non-Tesla supervisors. These were documented in the nine months that he worked at our plant," Valerie Capers Workman Tesla's vice president for people, almost admitting to some racism. "But he didn't make any complaints regarding the N-word till after he wasn't hired full-time at Tesla and after he had hired an attorney."

It can be exhausting to report every instance of racism promptly, especially if it is widespread. This expectation unreasonably implies that the victim is responsible for rectifying the situation and not the company.

Tesla also mentioned that Diaz suggested that his children work for the company. However, this doesn't necessarily prove it is a great place to work. Squid Game taught us one thing: People will do anything to get money.

In an attempt to damage its image, Tesla also stated that the company has changed since Diaz's departure in 2016. Tesla highlighted the fact that it has better HR structures in place to address these issues, including an Employee Relations team and a Diversity, Equity and Inclusive team.

"Were not perfect. We have made great strides since 2005. We are constantly improving our ability to address employee concerns. Sometimes we make mistakes, and when that happens, we should be held responsible," Workman said, while trying to avoid accountability.

Mashable reached out to Tesla to provide comment.

Diaz's case stands out because Tesla uses mandatory arbitration to address cases of racial discrimination. This policy has been criticized in the past because it means issues are kept secret and employees don't have the right to appeal.