October 5 (WNN) — A federal jury in California has ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to a former worker for failing to stop a workplace culture in which he was racially discriminated against.
A jury found Monday that Owen Diaz and other workers of color were subjected to multiple instances of racial discrimination during nine months at the Tesla factory located in Fremont, Calif., between 2015 and 2016.
“I’m glad the jury saw the truth and sent a message to Tesla to clean up their workplace,” Owen’s attorney Larry Organ told NPR.
The lawsuit states that Diaz worked at the factory as a contract elevator operator and that instead of a “modern workplace,” he found the environment to be “a straight scene from the Jim Crow era.”
Diaz said Tesla employees hurled racial abuses at him and other workers, and painted racist images left around the factory, and were asked to “go back to Africa.”
In the lawsuit, Diaz said that he complained of discrimination several times to contracting companies Citystaff and Next Source, but the complaints never came to fruition.
“The Teslas of 2015 and 2016 (when Mr. Diaz worked at the Fremont factory) are not the same as the Teslas of today,” Valerie Kepers Workman, Tesla’s vice president of people, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We acknowledge that we still have work to do to make sure that every employee feels like they can bring their full self to work at Tesla,” she said.
Workman argued that although witnesses testified to hear racial slurs used on the factory floor, they “agreed that most of the time they believed the language was used in a ‘friendly’ manner and Usually by African American allies.”