Tesla Inc. has been ordered to pay nearly $137 million to a black former employee who won a ruling that the company failed to stop his supervisors from calling him the “N-word” at the electric-car maker’s northern California plant.
A federal jury concluded on Monday, October 4, that the company had neglected to take reasonable steps to prevent Owen Diaz, a lift operator hired in 2015 through a staffing agency, from being racially harassed.
The jury in San Francisco awarded Diaz $130 million in punitive damages and a further $6.9 million in compensatory damages, his attorney, Lawrence A. Organ, told the Washington Post.
Owen Diaz in his lawsuit had described the Fremont, California, plant, as a ‘hotbed of racist behavior’ where he was subjected to daily racist abuse including the N-word, over a course of 11 months from 2015 to 2016.
The 52-year-old claimed fellow employees drew swastikas and left racist graffiti around the plant, while he said one of his supervisors drew a person with a black face and a bone in his hair and wrote ‘booo,’ short for ‘jigaboo.’
The supervisor then allegedly told him ‘he couldn’t take a joke’ when Diaz confronted him. Diaz contended that none of his supervisors stepped in to stop the abuse.