A Black former Tesla worker who accused the company of creating a hostile work environment and daily racial harassment won a multi-million dollar settlement.
Owen Diaz worked at the San Francisco-area factory as a contracted elevator operator and sued the electric car manufacturer for not addressing the daily racial abuse he endured from white coworkers.
Among his claims, the 52-year-old says white coworkers drew swastikas and racist messages in graffiti around the factory. Diaz also said one of his supervisors drew a caricature of a person with a black face and a bone in their hair with the word "boo" underneath, short for the racist slur, "jigaboo."
When Diaz confronted the supervisor about it, Diaz says he was told he "couldn't take a joke." None of the other supervisors stepped in to do anything about it, the former Tesla worker said.
A jury in the lawsuit brought against Tesla sided with Diaz, forcing the company to pay him $137 million. Diaz's payout is the second monetary settlement the company has had to pay in a discrimination lawsuit this year. Melvin Berry, 47, was awarded $1 million in May after he sued the company for discrimination at the same factory.
"Tesla's progressive image was a facade papering over its regressive, demeaning treatment of African-American employees," the lawsuit said.
Diaz's attorney, Lawrence A. Organ, told The Washington Post he was awarded $6.9 million in damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages.
"It's a great thing when one of the richest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the abhorrent conditions at its factory for Black people," Organ told The New York Times.
"It took four long years to get to this point," Diaz told The Times. "It's like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders."