Tesla to pay $137 million to former employee over racial abuse

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A jury ordered Tesla to pay $137 million to Owen Diaz, a Black former employee who accused the carmaker of ignoring racial abuse he faced while working there, his lawyer, Lawrence Organ, said late on Monday.

“It’s a great thing when one of the richest corporations in America has to have a reckoning of the abhorrent conditions at its factory for Black people,” Mr. Organ, of the California Civil Rights Law Group, said in an interview.

The decision by the jury, in federal court in San Francisco, was reported earlier by Bloomberg News. Tesla’s lawyers did not immediately provide comment.

In an interview, Mr. Diaz said he was relieved by the jury’s decision.

“It took four long years to get to this point,” he said on Monday evening. “It’s like a big weight has been pulled off my shoulders.”

Mr. Diaz said he worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif., for about a year in 2015 and 2016. There, he said, a supervisor and other colleagues repeatedly referred to him using racial slurs. He also 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. Despite repeated complaints, the company did little to address the behavior, he said.

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