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Tesla to pay over $3 million to former Black employee over racial harassment

The plaintiff "just couldn't take" coming back.

Tesla has been ordered to pay $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in economic damages to a Black former employee after the company failed to stop “severe” racial harassment.

In 2021, the plaintiff, Owen Diaz, was originally awarded $137 million at the time of the hearing, before it was reduced to $15 million by the judge, William Orrick. The judge described the original figure as “excessive”.

Diaz opted for a new trial on damages.

During the court hearing, the former elevator operator said he experienced frequent racial abuse when working at Tesla.  The jury was told the environment was “saturated” with racism.

According to The Guardian, Diaz’s lawyer Bernard Alexander, said Diaz’s outlook on the world had been permanently changed from this experience.

“That is what happens when you take away a person’s safety,” he said.

It was heard his supervisors did little to respond to his claims and one even threatened Diaz and drew a racist caricature near where he worked.

Diaz took a bereavement leave after the death of his mother. In his testimony he said he “just couldn’t take” coming back.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet that if new evidence could have been introduced in the new trial “the verdict would’ve been zero”.

“Jury did the best they could with the information they had. I respect the decision,” he said.

Photo: Cars Parked In Front Of Company Building by Craig Adderley available HERE and used under a Creative Commons license. This image has not been modified.

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