Black ex-Tesla employee rejects $15 million payout for race discrimination lawsuit

Black ex-Tesla employee rejects $15 million payout for race discrimination lawsuit

A black former Tesla employee has decided to reject a $15 million payout for a racial discrimination lawsuit he filed against the company in 2017.

Owen Diaz, who worked at Tesla’s auto plant in Fremont, California, for nine months between 2015 and 2016, alleges co-workers spat racial slurs at him and drew swastikas and the “N-word” on his hands. bathroom walls.

In April, U.S. District Judge William Orrick ruled in favor of Diaz, holding Tesla responsible for failing to provide a safe and neutral work environment. However, the judge reduced the initial payment from $137 million to $15 million, saying the original amount was “unconstitutionally high”.

Diaz’s lawyer, Bernard Alexander, told Reuters at the time that Diaz planned to appeal the $15 million payment.

“The $15 million award is substantial but does not come close to reflecting the harm done to Mr. Diaz, or the wrongfulness of Tesla’s conduct,” Alexander said.

Earlier this month, Orrick told Diaz he had two weeks to accept or reject the payment. Diaz’s decision to reject it could lead to a new racial discrimination lawsuit from Tesla.

A 2018 New York Times investigation in Tesla’s alleged discriminatory work culture found that black workers at the Fremont plant were threatened by co-workers, demeaning assignments, and barriers that kept them from advancing within the company.

At the time of this report, Tesla denied the Times’ findings and told the paper there was no evidence to support “a pattern of discrimination and harassment.”

Nonetheless, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Tesla in February, citing years of “rampant racism” at the Fremont plant.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk came under additional scrutiny in June amid the coronavirus pandemic for telling employees in a leaked email that they had to work in the office at least 40 hours a week or risk being made redundant.

A screenshot of Elon Musk’s email to Tesla employees.

“Everyone at Tesla must spend at least 40 hours in the office per week,” Musk began. “Also, the office should be where your real colleagues are, not some remote pseudo-office. If you do not show up, we will assume that you have resigned.

Jessica Barraza, a Tesla employee, also filed a lawsuit against the company in November 2021, alleging that Tesla fostered an environment of sexual harassment.


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