Tesla Must Pay Former Employee $3 Million for Racial Discrimination: After being sentenced to pay over $10 million to a Black ex-employee in a racial discrimination case, Tesla Inc. received some financial relief when a jury reduced the award to over $3 million.
This was the case’s second appearance before a federal jury in as many years.
A 2021 court ruling found Elon Musk’s electric car company responsible for creating a hostile work environment for a former production worker and for failing to avoid racial harassment.
The jury decided in favor of Owen Diaz, a former employee, and awarded him $137 million in damages. In 2015 and 2016, Mr. Diaz worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont, California, facility.
Last year, U.S. District Judge William Orrick reduced the award from the previous year’s $20 million to $15 million, deeming the previous damages excessive. But, Mr. Diaz did not accept the decreased prize.
In this second trial, the jury was instructed to believe Tesla is at fault and decide how much in damages the firm should pay. Mr. Diaz was awarded $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in compensatory damages by the eight-person jury on Monday.
When asked about the verdict, both Tesla’s general counsel and attorney Alex Spiro declined to comment.
The lawyers for Mr. Diaz said they were dissatisfied with the verdict.“I don’t think that the truth drove the decisions here. I think it was a show whereby Mr. Diaz was attacked and his credibility was questioned,” said Larry Organ, among the plaintiff’s lawyers.
The lawyers representing Mr. Diaz have requested Judge Orrick to declare a mistrial on the grounds that Tesla illegally attempted to introduce evidence that biased the jury against Mr. Diaz.
Mr. Diaz’s second attorney, Bernard Alexander, asked the jury last week for a total of $8 million in compensatory damages and perhaps $150 million in punitive damages.“If Tesla refuses to protect Black employees inside the workplace, then it is unsafe for them,” In his last remarks, Mr. Alexander remarked.
Mr. Spiro said that Mr. Diaz’s demand for damages was “unwedded to law” and that Mr. Diaz had frequently lied to him. Mr. Spiro remarked, “Justice is not lying to acquire an advantage.”
In the prior trial, the jury held Tesla responsible because the company had created a hostile work environment for Mr. Diaz because of his race, had failed to protect him from being harassed because of his race, and had negligently retained and supervised one or more of Mr. Diaz’s supervisors.
Mr. Diaz works at Tesla’s only automobile manufacturing plant, located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2021, Tesla’s HR director stated that the firm didn’t agree with the ruling.
Tesla is also being sued in state court by the California Civil Rights Department, which filed an action against the firm last year on behalf of Black manufacturing workers who said that Tesla had disregarded their concerns over the course of several years. Tesla claims the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached the same findings.
Tesla has commented negatively on the California agency’s probe, saying it “strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment.”Earlier this year, the business said that it was making mediation arrangements with the federal commission.