Tesla has been directed to pay approximately $137 million (£101 million) in damages for its failure to prevent the racial abuse inflicted upon a former black worker at its Fremont plant.
A federal court in San Francisco has found that Owen Diaz, a lift operator employed at Tesla from 2015 to 2016, endured a racially hostile work environment. Mr. Diaz reported incidents of black workers being subjected to racist slurs on the factory floor, as well as encountering racist graffiti in the bathrooms.
Tesla contested the verdict but acknowledged that it was “not perfect.” In Mr. Diaz’s lawsuit, he claimed that African-American workers at Tesla’s Fremont factory experienced a workplace environment reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.
According to the lawsuit, Tesla’s colleagues allegedly subjected Mr. Diaz to racial slurs on a daily basis, including telling him to “go back to Africa.” The lawsuit accused Tesla of projecting a progressive image that concealed the company’s discriminatory and demeaning treatment of African-American employees.
Despite Mr. Diaz’s complaints to supervisors, the court determined that Tesla did not take sufficient measures to address the abuse he experienced.
According to Mr. Diaz’s attorneys, the jury at the San Francisco court granted him $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress on Monday.
Lawrence Organ, a representative from the California Civil Rights Law Group, expressed his hope that the substantial penalty would serve as a catalyst for change.
Lawrence Organ, speaking to the Washington Post, expressed his satisfaction that the jury held Tesla accountable, emphasizing that even one of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations cannot permit such incidents to occur within their factories.
In a message posted on Tesla’s website, Valerie Capers Workman, the company’s vice president of people, expressed her strong belief that the verdict was unwarranted. She stated that Tesla had responded promptly to Mr. Diaz’s complaints and acknowledged that while the company strives for excellence, it is aware that it is not flawless.
She also recognized, “While we admit that we were not perfect in 2015 and 2016, we continue to evolve and improve. Over the past five years, we have made notable progress in addressing the issues we faced.”
She stated that the company has implemented an employee relations team specifically tasked with investigating complaints and a diversity team dedicated to promoting equal opportunities within Tesla.
According to Tesla’s initial diversity report published in December, black employees accounted for only 4% of leadership positions and 10% of the total workforce in the United States.
Source : bbc.com