A Black former elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory payout for his racial bias lawsuit has been slashed from $15 million to $3.2 million.
Diaz accused Tesla of failing to act when he repeatedly complained to managers that employees at the factory repeatedly used racist slurs and scribbled swastikas, racist caricatures and epithets on walls and work areas. Diaz says he was even told to “go back to Africa” by his colleagues.
Diaz’s fight for justice has been somewhat of a rollercoaster.
The first jury in 2021 awarded Diaz $7 million in damages for emotional distress and $137 million in punitive damages, one of the largest employment discrimination cases in U.S. history. However, while a U.S. district judge did agree with the jury that Tesla had broken the law, he felt the award was excessive because Diaz had worked at the factory for only nine months and had not alleged any physical injury or illness. The $137 million was then lowered to $15 million.
“No Black man in 2015 should ever be subjected to this plantation mentality workplace,” Diaz’s attorney, Bernard Alexander of Morrison Alexander & Fehr, told the jury. Alexander encouraged jurors to decide on damages in an amount that “will get Tesla’s attention.”
Tesla counsel Alex Spiro argued that Diaz should only be awarded damages amounting to about half of his salary.
Speaking to Daily Beast, Diaz said he plans to appeal the verdict since “justice still hasn’t been served.” He also noted that the jury was not made up of “my peers,” but rather of “whites and idiots.”