US company Tesla ordered to pay $ 137 million to ex-employee victim of racism

A year of work and racist insults. A California jury on Wednesday (October 6) sentenced the automobile company Tesla to pay nearly $ 137 million in damages to a black ex-employee, for turning a blind eye to the racism suffered by the man in a factory of the group . The judgment should shake up American companies, believes his lawyer.

“They decided on an amount that could serve as a wake-up call for American firms”civil rights lawyer Larry Organ told AFP on Tuesday. “Don’t behave racistically and don’t let racism continue.”

Hired through a recruitment agency, Owen Diaz worked as a freight elevator operator between June 2015 and July 2016 at the electric vehicle manufacturer’s Fremont, California plant, where he suffered racist slurs and a hostile work environment. , according to court documents. During the trial, the victim explained that African Americans at the factory, where her son also worked, were regularly victims of racist nicknames and disparagement. The ex-employee claimed that despite complaints to the hierarchy, Tesla did not react to end the usual racism.

“I knew Owen was telling the truth, I just had to prove it to eight unknown people”, said the lawyer, referring to the jury. “Normal people see clearly through the bullshit displayed in American boxes”.

On the side of Tesla, the vice president in charge of human resources, Valerie Capers Workman, admitted part of the facts in a press release published in the wake of the verdict. “While we firmly believe that the facts do not justify this decision of the San Francisco jury, we recognize that in 2015 and 2016 we were not perfect.”.

She mentions that at the Fremont plant, other employees testified to having “regularly heard racist insults”, whose word “nigger” (“Negro”). According to her, these employees said that “most of the time, they thought that this language was used in a way ‘friendly’ and in general by African-American colleagues “.

She said Tesla responded to Owen Diaz’s complaints by firing two contract workers. She also pointed out that Tesla has made changes since Owen Diaz’s time at the plant, building a human resources team that investigates employee complaints.

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