Tesla: Car maker ordered to compensate an ex-employee $3.2 million due to charges of racism

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla was obliged to compensate a black former employee of $3.2 million (£2.6 million) against a lawsuit alleging racial harassment.

A federal jury decided that the Fremont factory’s workplace for lift operator Owen Diaz in 2015 and 2016 was racially hostile.

The $137 million that he was initially granted in 2021 has been reduced by 98%, though. The initial sum was deemed excessive by a judge last year.

Mr. Diaz received $175,000 in emotional distress damages and $3 million in punitive penalties on Monday.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, wrote on Twitter that if fresh information had been permitted to be presented, “the verdict would’ve been zero imo.”

African-American employees at the company’s Fremont, California, facility, according to Mr. Diaz’s original lawsuit, “experienced a scenario straight from the Jim Crow era.” He asserted that racist comments and restroom graffiti were commonplace for black workers in the workplace.

Employees would use racist historical titles, like “the plantation,” to describe places where black or African-American staff members worked, according to the lawsuit. It claimed that one employee experienced racial epithets “as frequently as 50–100 times each day.”

A federal court in San Francisco determined in 2021 that, despite criticism from supervisors, Tesla failed to take appropriate action to stop the abuse.

A damages verdict of $137 million was given to Mr. Diaz. At the time, Tesla contested the decision but acknowledged it was “not flawless.”

In April 2022, a US federal judge reduced Mr. Diaz’s award to $15 million and deemed the jury’s verdict to be “very exorbitant.” Last Monday, Mr. Diaz’s attorney, Bernard Alexander, stated the following: “The worldview of Mr. Diaz has been irrevocably altered.” “When someone’s safety is taken away, that is what happens.”

Jurors were urged by Mr. Alexander to grant his client roughly $160 million in damages.

The defence team for Mr. Diaz, according to Tesla’s attorney, Mr. Spiro, failed to demonstrate that Tesla had actually done any significant, long-lasting harm. As if this were some sort of game show, Mr. Spiro observed, “They’re just tossing numbers up on the screen.”