Tesla ordered to pay $3 million to Black ex-factory worker for racial abuse offenses

During the trial, Diaz shared how he'd experienced racist language and graffiti while working at Tesla.


As reported by outlets like CNBC, a federal jury in San Francisco has ordered Tesla to pay $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in economic damages to Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at the company’s Fremont, California factory. In terms of the damages in question, they’re tied to a myriad of negative, inexcusable experiences Diaz suffered while working at the Tesla factory in 2015, including a racially hostile work environment.

Diaz was originally awarded $137 million back in 2021 following a jury decision that determined he’d suffered civil rights violations while working at Tesla, with the company also failing to take steps to end or prevent further harassment. As high as this number is, it’s noted that Tesla and Diaz sought a retrial which reduced the amount to $15 million. Now, Diaz is looking at around $3.2 million in damages through the combined $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in economic damages.

During the trial, Diaz talked about how his coworkers would use racist language to belittle and demean him and other Black workers, including being told to “go back to Africa”, along with how he’d encountered racist graffiti, and in general, how he felt physically unsafe while working at the Fremont factory. In further testimonies, Diaz also touched on how he’d previously encouraged his son to work at Tesla and how he regrets this as his son also experienced a racially hostile workplace while employed there.

Worker at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California operating machinery
© Tesla

In addition to Diaz’s trial, it’s noted by CNBC that Tesla has been sued in the U.S. over 200 times by current and former employees since 2018, with this number not accounting for legal disputes that have been settled outside of court.

In the immediate future, Tesla is looking at additional legal action from employees including former service manager John Goode who recently filed a lawsuit alleging that his manager, a white man, repeatedly made racist remarks in his presence, was racially biased against him and another Black coworker, and was fired in retaliation after he’d made objections to this treatment.

For more on this, and how Owen Diaz was awarded $3.2 million in damages, be sure to read through the full report from CNBC. For more on Tesla, catch up with some of our previous coverage, including Tesla (TSLA) reporting 422,875 EV deliveries in Q1 2023, and Tesla issuing a voluntary recall on 35 semi trucks over brake valve module defect.

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Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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