A Black man who had accused Tesla of disregarding racial harassment he suffered while working at its California plant was awarded around $3.2 million by a federal jury in San Francisco on Monday. The jury’s decision came in response to the man’s claim that Tesla had ignored the abuse he had received.
The judgement was far lower than the previous record of $137 million, which had been set by a separate jury two years previously and consisted mostly of punitive damages. The value was eventually lowered to $15 million by the judge presiding over that trial, which prompted the plaintiff, Owen Diaz, to contest the amount in a subsequent trial.
But, rather of coming away with more money, he will be left with less. After a trial that lasted over five days, the jury decided to impose punitive damages totaling $3 million and noneconomic damages totaling $175,000 for both the past and the future.
Throughout the years 2015 and 2016, Mr. Diaz worked as a contractor at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, which is located close to San Francisco. At that time, he claimed he was the target of many racist incidents. He claimed that a supervisor as well as other coworkers often used racial insults, especially in reference to him, while he was working there. According to him, workers also scribbled racial slurs and created racist symbols and caricatures across the manufacturing facility.
Mr. Diaz said that the transgressions had a significant impact on him emotionally and that he had brought them to the notice of the corporation; nonetheless, he stated that Tesla had done nothing to remedy them despite his efforts. He said that he had been able to put up with the hostility up to the point where his son started working at the plant and encountered the same treatment.
The attorneys for Tesla indicated that their client, Mr. Diaz, had exaggerated the severity and intensity of the racist abuse he had endured, and they encouraged the jury to give the least amount of damages possible.
But, the culpability of the employer for having placed Mr. Diaz in an intimidating work environment and for having failed to prevent racial harassment was not put to the test in this instance. In the directions that were given to the jury, Judge William H. Orrick described the matter as having already been “conclusively resolved.” Instead, it was up to the jury to decide how much financial compensation Mr. Diaz was entitled to.
In response to Mr. Diaz’s allegations, Tesla’s chief of human resources said, after the 2021 trial, that the firm had terminated the employment of two contractors and suspended the employment of another. The executive admitted that the organisation was “not flawless” in 2015 and 2016, but said that it has made significant progress since that time.