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Former Tesla Worker Rejects $15 Million Payout

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Former Tesla Worker Rejects $15 Million Payout

A Black former employee at Tesla’s flagship assembly plant in California has turned down a $15 million payout from his ex-employer after they were found guilty of racial discrimination.

Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator, turned down the payment after his lawyers filed a motion at a federal court in San Francisco, claiming the amount being offered was unjust and would not be sufficient enough to dissuade the company from further racial misconduct.

The move comes after a judge gave Diaz a two-week deadline to accept the payout, which had been slashed by a staggering 89 percent down from the jury's initial verdict of $137 million.

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Diaz also denied Tesla’s motion for a new trial, conditioned on his acceptance of the lower award.

Owen Diaz turned down the payout. Credit: Handout
Owen Diaz turned down the payout. Credit: Handout

“In rejecting the court’s excessive reduction by asking for a new trial, Mr. Diaz is again asking a jury of his peers to evaluate what Tesla did to him and to provide just compensation for the torrent of racist slurs that was directed at him,” his lawyers said in a statement.

Diaz alleged in his lawsuit that while working at Tesla he was subjected to a torrent of racial abuse from colleagues and that workers at the assembly plant would verbally abuse Black employees with impunity on a regular basis.

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Diaz claims that employees at the plant told him to ‘go back to Africa’ and that he regularly encountered racist graffiti in the bathrooms.

“Sometimes I would just sit on my stairs and cry,” he told the jury, before admitting the experience had led him to suffer weight loss and sleepless nights.

David Oppenheimer, a clinical professor of law at Berkeley Law, said the lawsuit was the 'largest verdict in an individual race discrimination in employment case,' Insider reports.

Diaz has alleged racial abuse his workplace. Credit: Alamy
Diaz has alleged racial abuse his workplace. Credit: Alamy
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Diaz’ case is bolstered by over 100 sworn declarations given by current and former Tesla employees who have gone on the record detailing their own experiences with alleged racial abuse at the company.

One ex-employee claims he was called the N-word 'approximately 100 times' and saw KKK signs and swastikas graffitied in bathroom stalls.

Another statement from ex-contractor Aaron Minor alleged that Tesla employees would refer to the Fremont factory as 'the Plantation' and its Black employees as 'cotton workers', the report said.

“My understanding is that people refer to the Tesla factory as the Plantation and call employees cotton workers because Tesla treats its Black employees like slaves,” Minor reportedly wrote in his statement.

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UNILAD has reached out to Tesla for comment.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org 

Featured Image Credit: Handout/Shutterstock

Topics: News, Tesla

Tom Sanders
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