Jury Awards $137 Million To Former Tesla Employee For Enduring "Racist Abuse"

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Oct 05, 2021 - 09:35 AM

While automobile regulators don't seem motivated to do their jobs when it comes to Tesla's disrespect for rules and basic human decency, one San Francisco Federal Court didn't lack motivation this past week. 

A court on Monday decided Tesla must pay one of its former workers $137 million for enduring "racist abuse" while working for the company, a CNBC report said.

The jury awarded the former employee, Owen Diaz, $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million in emotional distress.

Diaz’s attorneys told CNBC that the case was only able to move forward because Diaz didn't sign one of the company's mandatory arbitration agreements. 

One attorney, J. Bernard Alexander, said: “We were able to put the jury in the shoes of our client. When Tesla came to court and tried to say they were zero tolerance and they were fulfilling their duty? The jury was just offended by that because it was actually zero responsibility.”

Diaz found the work at Tesla through a staffing agency in 2015 and told the jury that coworkers told him to "go back to Africa" and left racist graffiti in the company's restrooom. They also left a racist drawing in his workspace, he told the court.

Recall, back in August, Tesla was forced to pay another former employee $1 million for enduring racism while working at the company. The former employee won a ruling that the company failed to stop his supervisors from calling him the "N-word" at the company's Fremont factory.

Melvin Berry won the discrimination award after a closed-door proceeding that came on the heels of "years of complaints from Black workers that Tesla turned a blind eye to the commonplace use of racial slurs on the assembly line," Bloomberg wrote at the time. 

Similarly, it was also alleged that the company was slow to remove graffiti containing hate symbols.

Berry was hired by Tesla in 2015 and quit within 18 months. He claimed that when he confronted a supervisor about being called the "N-word" he was forced to work longer hours and "push a heavier cart".