Tesla has been ordered to cough up some serious cash for former black employee, Owen Diaz, who made claims that he was subjected to racism and hostile environment at the electric carmaker’s San Francisco Bay Area factory. More inside…
Tesla is being ordered to cough up MILLIONS of dollars to a former employee. The reason? RACISM. Hmph.
According to reports, a federal jury in San Francisco has ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to a former elevator operator – who is black – after he filed a lawsuit with claims that the carmaker IGNORED racial abuse he endured while working at the electric carmaker’s San Francisco Bay Area factory.
Owen Diaz was subjected to racial harassment and a hostile work environment when he worked at Tesla’s Fremont plant in 2015 and 2016 before quitting. He shared his experience in a 2018 The New York Times article.
The former Tesla employee was awarded $6.9 million in damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages, according to his attorney, Lawrence A. Organ.
JUST IN: Elon Musk’s Tesla To Pay Former Employee $137 Million Over Racist Treatment
A San Francisco jury has awarded a $136.9 million verdict to a former Tesla worker, Owen Diaz on Monday over claims that pic.twitter.com/WBKMsqo7JJ
— Circle TV (@CircleTV__) October 5, 2021
In the lawsuit, Mr. Diaz alleged that employees drew swastikas and left racist graffiti and drawings around the plant. A swastika is an equilateral cross with arms bent at right angles, all in the same rotary direction, usually clockwise. He alleged his colleagues scratched a racial epithet in a bathroom stall and left drawings of derogatory caricatures of Black children around the factory.
No one did ANYTHING to stop the abuse after Owen Diaz brought it to his supervisor’s attention. Despite repeated complaints, nothing was ever done so Owen took things into his own hands. He’s so happy he did.
“It took four long years to get to this point,” Mr. Diaz said after the ruling. “It’s like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders.”
“It’s a great thing when one of the richest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the abhorrent conditions at its factory for Black people,” Mr. Diaz’s lawyer, Lawrence Organ of the California Civil Rights Law Group, said in an interview.
While working at Tesla, he was able to help his son, Demetric, get his first job ever at the plant. Once he realized his son was being subjected to similar racist epithets, he took action.
“My son watched his father being broken in front of him,” Mr. Diaz said.
In fact, Owen Diaz’s son and another former Black employee also filed lawsuits, but only Mr. Diaz’s claims made it trial.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Tesla planned to appeal the decision and the damages award.
Previously, Tesla denied any knowledge of the alleged racist conduct at the plant, which has about 10,000 workers.
The NY Times reports:
In a message to Tesla staff members that was posted on the company’s website, Valerie Capers Workman, a human resources executive, noted that Mr. Diaz was a contractor, not a Tesla employee, and played down the allegations in the 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,” she 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.”
The company, she wrote in the email, was responsive to Mr. Diaz’s complaints, firing two contractors and suspending another. Tesla does not believe the facts justify the verdict, she wrote, but acknowledges that the company was “not perfect” in 2015 and 2016. “We’re still not perfect,” she added. “But we have come a long way.”
We are glad this man (and his son) received justice. Hopefully, this case will discourage other racists from acting out on the J-O-B.
Photo: Vitaliy Karimov/Shutterstock