Tesla Ordered to Pay $137 Million in Damages to Racially Abused Worker

A San Francisco federal court ruled that automaker Tesla must pay a former worker approximately $137 million in damages after he was subjected to a hostile and racist work environment.

Owen Diaz was awarded $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress.

Diaz, an elevator operator at Tesla was subjected to a racially hostile work environment, the court found.

Diaz’s suit against Tesla alleged that Black workers at the company’s Fremont plant “encountered a scene  straight from the Jim Crow era”. and that African-American routinely faced racist behavior, graffiti, and slurs while working at the factory.

The case is unusual because Diaz was only able to move forward with litigation against Tesla because he had not signed Tesla’s mandatory arbitration agreement which the company uses to force disputes to be resolved without a public trial.

In a statement Tesla disputed the verdict while recognizing that it was “not perfect”.

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