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 April 5, 2023

Former Tesla employee wins over $3 million in racial harassment case

A former Tesla employee who sued Elon Musk's electric vehicle company in a racial harassment case just became a millionaire after a federal grand jury came to a decision on the case. But not everyone's happy about that.  

According to Breitbart, Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California in 2015 and 2016, sued the company over what he claimed was a hostile work environment and racial harassment.

There have been multiple legal battles regarding the worker's lawsuit, but this week, a federal grand jury awarded him $3 million in punitive damages and $175,000 in compensatory damages.

The Wall Street Journal noted:

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.

In other words, the case went to a second jury after the original award was severely reduced, leading to this week's $3 million award.

While it's still a hefty chunk of change, it's nothing compared to the original amount awarded, and lawyers for the former Tesla factory worker were less than happy, even calling for a mistrial based on "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," attorney Larry Organ said.

Bernard Alexander, another attorney in the case, wanted $8 million in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages.

"If Tesla refuses to protect black employees inside the workplace, then it is unsafe for them," he said in his closing statement.

"A federal jury ordered Tesla to pay almost $3.2M to a Black former worker in a racial harassment lawsuit. Black workers at Tesla’s firm plant faced racist slurs "50-100 times a day," Owen Diaz says. The payment is significantly less than what Diaz was initially awarded in 2021," AJ+ tweeted.

The electric vehicle company continues to battle other cases involving racial issues, including a lawsuit in California regarding the company's alleged ignoring of complaints from its Black workers.

It's unclear what next steps Diaz will take, if any.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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