Judge finds Tesla liable to black former worker who alleged bias, but slashes requested payout

A federal judge said on Wednesday Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) was liable to a Black elevator operator who said that Tesla ignored racial abuse at the factory where he worked, however the compensation was reduced from $137 million jury award to $15 million.

The reductions were $1.5 million from the “excessive” $6.9 million that the jury awarded, and punitive damages were lowered to $13.5 million from the “unconstitutionally large” $130 million jury award.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco ruled after jurors last October found that Tesla subjected Owen Diaz to a hostile environment at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California by allowing and failing to stop the racism he faced.

Diaz, who worked at the plant for nine months in 2015 and 2016, said other employees used racist slurs when speaking to him, and drew swastikas and slurs including the “N-word” on bathroom walls. He also said one supervisor drew a racist caricature near his desk.

In a 43-page decision, Orrick said the evidence amply supported the jury’s finding Tesla liable for the “profound” emotional harm Diaz suffered and the “often inadequate” disciplinary steps the company took.

Bernard Alexander, who is a lawyer for Diaz, in an interview said his client plans to appeal the lowered damages award. “We’re pleased that the court upheld the jury’s finding that Tesla’s conduct was absolutely reprehensible,” Alexander said.

“The award of $15 million is substantial but does not come close to reflecting the harm caused to Mr. Diaz, or the reprehensibility of Tesla’s conduct,” he added.

Tesla previously called that lawsuit misguided, and said it has adopted policies to prevent and punish racist conduct. The company had sought to limit compensatory and punitive damages to $300,000 each.




The following two tabs change content below.
Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

Leave a Reply