Tesla Ordered to Pay Former Worker $3 Million in Racial Harassment Case

Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020, in Washington. A federal judge in New York has denied Musk's request to scrap his settlement with securities regulators over 2018 tweets about having the money to take Tesla private. Judge Lewis Liman on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, …
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Tesla has been ordered by a federal jury to pay $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in compensatory damages to a former worker in a racial harassment case. The amount is a dramatic reduction from a prior judge’s awarding of $15 million in damages, which itself was a reduction in the jury’s award of $137 million.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in a case of racial harassment, a federal jury found Tesla liable for $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in compensatory damages to a black former employee. In 2015 and 2016, Owen Diaz worked as an elevator operator at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. Diaz alleged that he experienced racial harassment and a hostile work environment.

Elon Musk watches SpaceX launch

Elon Musk watches SpaceX launch (
Joe Raedle /Getty)

The case has now been brought before a federal jury twice. The jury awarded Diaz $137 million in damages in 2021 after concluding that Elon Musk’s electric vehicle manufacturer was responsible for the racial harassment. Diaz rejected the judge’s reduction of the award to $15 million, which prompted a new trial.

The jury was tasked with determining how much Tesla ought to pay in damages during the second trial. Tesla was ordered by the eight-person jury to pay Diaz $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in compensatory damages. The defense team for Diaz has requested a mistrial on the grounds that Tesla improperly introduced evidence that biased the jury against Diaz.

“I don’t think that the truth drove the decisions here. I think it was a show whereby Mr. Diaz was attacked and his credibility was questioned,” said Larry Organ, one of Diaz’s lawyers, expressing disappointment with the outcome.

Another attorney for Diaz, Bernard Alexander, had asked the jury to grant more than $8 million in compensatory damages and roughly $150 million in punitive damages. “If Tesla refuses to protect black employees inside the workplace, then it is unsafe for them,” Mr. Alexander said in his closing statement.

Tesla is additionally being sued in state court for allegedly ignoring the complaints of black factory workers. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached similar conclusions, and the California Civil Rights Department filed a lawsuit against the business the previous year. Tesla criticized the investigation conducted by the Californian agency and stated that it “strongly opposes all forms of discrimination and harassment.” Earlier this year, the business announced that it was setting up mediation with the federal commission.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan



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