Jury orders Tesla to pay former worker in racism case

Jury orders Tesla to pay former worker in racism case

A retrial in a lawsuit accusing Tesla of allowing racist abuse in its Silicon Valley factory ended with the car maker having to pay a fraction of the $137 million award it was hit with by the first jury that heard the case
A retrial in a lawsuit accusing Tesla of allowing racist abuse in its Silicon Valley factory ended with the car maker having to pay a fraction of the $137 million award it was hit with by the first jury that heard the case. Photo: JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Source: AFP

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A San Francisco jury on Monday ordered Tesla to pay a Black former employee nearly $3.2 million for turning a blind eye to racism at the electric car maker's Silicon Valley plant.

The verdict in the retrial was a victory of sorts for Tesla, which had been ordered to pay Owen Diaz $137 million by a jury when the original trial ended in October 2021.

A judge later reduced the amount in keeping with legal standards, but Diaz rejected the judge's proffered damages amount in favor of a new trial.

Diaz was an elevator operator at the electric vehicle-maker's Fremont, California factory between June 2015 and July 2016, where he was subjected to racist abuse and a hostile work environment, according to the court filing.

In his lawsuit filed in 2017, Diaz said African American employees at the factory, where his son also worked, were regularly subjected to racist epithets and derogatory imagery.

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Instead of a modern workplace, the plaintiffs "encountered a scene straight from the Jim Crow era," said the suit, originally filed by Diaz, his son, and a third former employee.

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Diaz alleged that, despite complaints to supervisors, Tesla took no action over the regular racist abuse.

Following the original verdict in the suit, a Tesla human resources vice president downplayed the allegations of racist abuse in the lawsuit but acknowledged that Tesla "was not perfect" when Diaz worked there.

The company also said at the time that conditions have improved in the workplace since Diaz worked there.

Source: AFP

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