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A federal jury in San Francisco has ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to a former Black employee after his allegations of racial discrimination in the workplace were confirmed.
Owen Diaz filed a lawsuit in October of 2017 after working for Tesla from June 2015 to July 2016 as an elevator operator in it’s Fremont, California factory.
In his lawsuit, Diaz claimed coworkers called him the “n-word”, was told to “go back to Africa”, and saw racist and derogatory images that were left around the factory.
Owen Diaz speaks out about Tesla killing investigations
“We just wanna be treated and seen as equal human beings,” Diaz told Good Morning America Wednesday morning. “[Tesla] decided not to follow through, they decided to kill investigations,” said Diaz. “You can’t keep treating workers like this.”
Diaz said that he complained to Tesla about his treatment but his supervisors failed to stop the abuse. He said employees had drawn swastikas and scratched a racial epithet in a bathroom stall and left drawings of derogatory caricatures of Black children around the factory.
In an email to employees posted on the company’s website, Tesla’s vice president of people, Valeria Workman, said: we strongly believe that these facts don’t justify the verdict reached by the jury in San Francisco, we do recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect. We’re still not perfect. But we have come a long way from 5 years ago.”
The $137 million is one of the largest awards in a racial discrimination case in the history of the United States.
“A lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck. They have to choose to either take the abuse that these billion-dollar companies are putting out or feed their families,” Diaz said. “It’s God’s justice that this happened, you know, and allowed me to talk for people who can’t talk for themselves.”