A San Francisco jury has ordered a settlement of a massive $136.9 million between a former Tesla employee over claims that he was subjected to harassment and was racially discriminated against by his colleagues and supervisors at the workplace.
Owen Diaz complained to his supervisors who failed to take appropriate actions. Following the continuous emotional torture at his workplace, Diaz claimed that he had sleepless nights and even lost weight. "Some days I would just sit on my stairs and cry," he said.
Meanwhile, the judgement has been claimed to be very unusual for various reasons. Talking to a leading media outlet, clinical professor of law at Berkeley Law, David Oppenheimer said, "I believe that's the largest verdict in an individual race discrimination in employment case."
The company later published a blog titled "Regarding Today's Jury Verdict" on its website. Valerie Capers Workman, who is Tesla's vice president of people, wrote that she went to court every day on behalf of Tesla at the defense table during the trial as she wanted to hear firsthand what Diaz claimed happened to him.
The post also highlighted that "Tesla of 2015 and 2016 (when Mr. Diaz worked in the Fremont factory) is not the same as the Tesla of today," according to reports.
What did the verdict say?
According to the verdict, Tesla needs to pay $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages, as reported by legal publication Law360. However, it wasn't immediately clear if Tesla would be able to restore some amount of the payout on appeal.
Who is Owen Diaz?
Diaz joined Tesla as a contractor. Reportedly, he worked at the plant until the spring of 2016. Diaz said that 'daily racist epithets' were used in the workplace, including the N-word and racist graffiti and cartoons that appeared in his workspace and the toilets. Moreover, he was harassed by his colleagues, who told him to go back to Africa.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster," said Diaz, during an interview with The Daily Beast adding, "The jury knew that this is not just for me; this verdict is for everybody that works at Tesla. This is their way of putting Elon Musk on notice."
Elon Musk 'Overlooked' Racist Case in His Own Company
Diaz has expressed frustration over the fact that the company's CEO Elon Musk, who also owns the rocket company SpaceX, has not reached out to him to apologize for the alleged racist attack. "Elon has not called me, sent me a letter, a text, sky writing, or sent up one of them spaceships to say I'm sorry," Diaz said.