Tesla ordered to pay former factory worker $130 million over racially hostile work environment

SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla Inc. subjected a Black former worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being racially harassed, a federal jury found Monday.

The eight-person jury awarded more than $130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s

Fremont, Calif., factory in 2015 and 2016.

He was regularly called racial epithets at work, where he saw racist images and language written in the bathroom and elsewhere, said Bernard Alexander, one of his attorneys, during the trial. The factory, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, was Tesla’s lone auto assembly plant at the time, employing roughly 10,000 people.

Diaz, 53, held his head in his hands after the jury’s verdict was read. He called the decision a weight off his shoulders. The trial lasted just over a week.

“It shines a light on what’s going on inside of Tesla’s factory,” he said. “Elon Musk, you’ve been put on notice. Clean that factory up.”

Tracey Kennedy, an attorney for Tesla, declined to comment on the verdict.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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