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April 13, 2023
Eco-giant and electric car superstar Tesla is having to pay nearly $137 million to an African-American former employee of the company who said he suffered racial abuse at the electric carmaker’s San Francisco Bay Area factory.
The man’s name, Owen Diaz, was reportedly ‘subjected to racial harassment and a hostile work environment’, per a report by Chron News. The San Francisco jury agreed to the accusations. Diaz alleged in a detailed lawsuit that he was harassed and faced “daily racist epithets,” including the “N-word,” while working at Tesla’s Fremont plant in 2015 and 2016 before quitting.
Diaz was a contracted elevator operator during his time with the company, and alleged that employees drew swastikas and left racist graffiti and drawings around the plant. He contended that supervisors failed to stop the abuse despite their knowledge of the repeated issues.
“Tesla’s progressive image was a façade papering over its regressive, demeaning treatment of African-American employees,” the lawsuit said. Diaz was awarded $6.9 in damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages, his attorney, Lawrence A. Organ, told the Washington Post.
“It took four long years to get to this point,” Diaz said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders. It’s a great thing when one of the richest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the abhorrent conditions at its factory for Black people,” Organ, of the California Civil Rights Law Group, told the Times.
ARTICLE: ETHAN FINN
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NPR