San Francisco jury hits Tesla with $ 137 million racing harassment verdict | Proskauer – California Employment Law

On Monday afternoon, a jury in federal court in San Francisco awarded $ 137 million to a former black elevator operator who worked at Tesla’s Fremont facility for about a year before quitting his job in 2016. Afterwards just four hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Owen Diaz $ 6.9 million. in damages for emotional distress and $ 130 million in punitive damages. Diaz said at the trial that Tesla employees frequently used the ‘n-word’ and drew swastikas and nooses as well as racist images in the workplace. Tesla’s attorney noted in oral argument that Diaz’s testimony was not supported by the evidence and “just doesn’t make sense” since Diaz had encouraged both his son and daughter to become employees. of the company.

This dazzling verdict comes at an interesting time for Tesla, as the company’s board of directors is due to vote on Thursday, October 7 on a shareholder proposal to prepare and publish a report on “the impact of the use of compulsory arbitration. about Tesla employees and workplace culture. The report is expected to assess the impact of Tesla’s current use of arbitration on the prevalence of harassment and discrimination in its workplace and on employees’ ability to seek redress. The Council will likely take into account that Melvin Berry (another former black Tesla employee who made similar allegations of racial harassment) won a million dollar award from an arbitrator less than two months ago. Diaz and Berry were represented by the same lawyer. These two cases (one tried before a jury and the other heard by an arbitrator) illustrate why complainants like juries and employers tend to prefer arbitration.

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