Tesla, Inc. has been ordered to pay around $137 million to a former worker who alleged a racist workplace culture. A San Francisco federal court ruled that Tesla should pay former contract worker Owen Diaz after he was subjected to a toxic and racist work environment.
According to the lawsuit, Diaz worked for the company as an elevator operator at the Fremont factor for nine months, from June 2015 to March 2016. During his tenure, he and other Black workers faced racism in the form of racial slurs from other employers, while some even found racist drawings left on their desks. There were also some racially offensive graffici found in the company’s washrooms, Diaz alleged.
Diaz’s case against Tesla moved forward because he was a contract worker of the many. This means that he was not legally mandated to sign the agreement.
Tesla admitted that the world’s most valuable automaker was still perfecting its workplace culture. It said it is growing from the time Diaz experienced racial discrimination.
Valeria Capers Workman, VP – People at Tesla, said in a statement that Diaz never worked directly for the company and was a contract worker for Citistaff and nextSource Diaz wrote several complaints to his non-Tesla supervisors however he did not mention any incidents regarding the use of racial slur until he was not hired full-time and hired an employment law attorney.
“The three times that Mr. Diaz did complain about harassment, Tesla stepped in and made sure responsive and timely action was taken by the staffing agencies: two contractors were fired and one was suspended,” wrote Workman in the blog.
“We’re still not perfect. But we have come a long way from five years ago. We continue to grow and improve in how we address employee concerns,” she added. “The Tesla of 2015 and 2016 (when Mr. Diaz worked in the Fremont factory) is not the same as the Tesla of today.”