Tesla Inc. is paying out even more money for its failure to take measures to stop racist behavior and workplace antagonism directed at its black employees.
Former employee Owen Diaz received an astronomical $136.9 million settlement from the corporation.
Diaz, a Black man, spent a year at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant. A federal court approved the multimillion-dollar award on Monday, Oct. 4, after a jury determined Diaz’s accusations of racial workplace hostility to be true.
Diaz claims he was called racial epithets by supervisors and ridiculed with drawings of racist caricatures on factory walls while working at the company from 2015 to 2016.
The New York Times reported that “employees had drawn swastikas and carved a racial slur on a restroom stall and left drawings of disparaging caricatures of Black children around the workplace.”
“Supervisors told me, ‘N—-r, hurry up and push the button’; ‘N—-r, shove these batteries out of the elevator,’ said the former employee. ‘N—–s aren’t s—t,’ they were also telling me.
Despite reporting the instances to human resources, Diaz claims that the corporation did little to nothing to address the racial animosity. Tesla’s HR vice president, Valerie Capers Workman, attempted to refute his accusations that the N-word was used in a racially motivated manner at the factory in an internal letter to employees.
“Three other witnesses (all non-Tesla contract employees) testified at trial that they heard racist slurs (including the N-word) on the Fremont manufacturing floor on a regular basis,” Workman wrote. “While they all agreed that using the N-word in the workplace was inappropriate, they also believed that the term was most often used in a ‘friendly’ manner and by African-American coworkers.”
According to Workman, the factory fired two contractors and suspended a third for allegedly engaging in racially motivated behavior. Even such steps, according to Diaz, were unable to influence Tesla’s culture. “It’s not like they were deleting the unpleasant behavior; they just kept allowing individuals to add to it,” he explained.
In the end, a jury ruled in favor of Diaz. His award is divided into two parts: $130 million for punitive damages and $6.9 million for compensatory damages.
“It’s taken four hard years to get here. “It feels like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders,” Diaz remarked. “It’s a great thing when one of the biggest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the horrible conditions at its factory for Black people,” his attorney, Lawrence Organ of the California Civil Rights Law Group, noted.
Tesla has been chastised online for allegedly tolerating racial taunting. “This person is deserving of it, but what a great reward.” It amazes me that such a large corporation as Tesla would disregard such harassment, but I believe it speaks volumes about their culture and lack of concern for their employees.”
The man is deserving, but what a colossal sum of money. It amazes me that such a large corporation as Tesla would disregard such mistreatment, but I believe it speaks volumes about their culture and lack of concern for their employees.
5 October 2021 — MindKind (@highspanic)
“Rather than throwing money to individuals after the event, why not just improve the working environment?” @tesla, you can do better.”
Demetric Diaz, Diaz’s son, got his first job in the factory, but resigned after being subjected to the same racial taunting as his father. In addition, he has launched a lawsuit against the corporation.
Diaz’s lawsuit is nearly identical to that of former Tesla employee Melvin Berry. In 2020, the former materials handler, who is also Black, filed a lawsuit against the corporation, alleging racial harassment. Berry was granted $1.02 million in his lawsuit, which created a precedent.
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