Tesla ordered to pay former worker $3.2 million in racism case

Tesla directed to pay nearly $3.2 million (£2.6 million) to black ex-employee in racial harassment lawsuit victory.

A federal jury found that Owen Diaz, employed as a lift operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory from 2015 to 2016, endured a racially hostile work environment.

The payment has been significantly reduced by 98% from the initial award of $137 million that Mr. Diaz received in 2021.

Last year, a judge deemed the original amount excessive. However, on Monday, Mr. Diaz was granted $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in damages for emotional distress.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk expressed his opinion on Twitter, stating, “If we had been allowed to present new evidence, I believe the verdict would have been zero.”

He further stated, “I have respect for the jury’s decision as they did their best with the information provided.”

Mr. Musk did not disclose the specifics of the new evidence Tesla would have presented. Tesla’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, chose not to comment on the matter. Furthermore, the company did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment from the BBC.

In the initial lawsuit, Mr. Diaz claimed that African-American workers at Tesla’s Fremont plant in California encountered a workplace environment reminiscent of the Jim Crow era.

According to his claims, black workers were subjected to frequent racist slurs on the factory floor and encountered racist graffiti in the bathrooms.

The lawsuit additionally alleged that employees would use racially derogatory names, such as “the plantation,” when referring to areas where black or African-American staff members worked.

The lawsuit claimed that one worker was subjected to racial slurs “as frequently as 50-100 times a day.” In 2021, a federal court in San Francisco determined that Tesla did not adequately address the abuse, despite receiving complaints from supervisors.

The jury granted Mr. Diaz $137 million in damages. While Tesla contested the verdict, the company acknowledged that it is not flawless.

In April 2022, a U.S. federal judge reduced Mr. Diaz’s award to $15 million, deeming the compensation determined by the jury to be excessively high.

Last week, Bernard Alexander, an attorney representing Mr. Diaz, stated, “Mr. Diaz’s perspective on the world has been irreversibly altered. This is the consequence of stripping away a person’s sense of safety.”

Mr. Alexander had urged the jurors to grant his client nearly $160 million in damages.

However, Tesla’s lawyer, Mr. Spiro, contended that Mr. Diaz’s attorneys had not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate any significant and enduring harm caused by Tesla.

Mr. Spiro commented, “They are presenting figures arbitrarily, as if this were a game show.”

Source : bbc.com

By Ryan

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