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Tesla Must Pay $137 Million to Ex-worker

Tesla is ordered by the San Francisco federal court to pay a former worker, Owen Diaz, around $137 million after he endured racist abuse working for the company. The jury awarded more than attorneys asked for their client, including $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress.

Diaz, a former contract worker who was hired at an electric vehicle company through a staffing agency in 2015, faced an aggressive work environment. He added that the colleagues used nicknames to denigrate him and other Black workers, told him to go back to Africa and left racist graffiti in the restrooms and a racist drawing in his workspace.

Diaz’s attorneys, J. Bernard Alexander with Alexander Morrison + Fehr LLP in Los Angeles and Larry Organ with the California Civil Rights Law Group in San Anselmo, the case was only able to move forward because the worker had not signed one of Tesla mandatory arbitration agreements.

Tesla uses mandatory arbitration to compel employees to resolve disputes behind closed doors rather than in a public trial. was required to pay $1 million as the result of an arbitration agreement to another former worker, Melvin Berry, who also endured a racist, hostile workplace at Tesla.The company annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7 and will take place at  new vehicle assembly plant under construction outside of Austin, Texas. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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