An American judge drastically reduced Wednesday April 13 – from 137 to 15 million dollars – the damages that Tesla will have to pay to an ex-employee victim of racism, while maintaining the guilt of the automaker. The San Francisco judge found the amount of damages a judge ordered Tesla to be “excessive” in October, and pointed to “constitutional limits” set on those amounts by the Supreme Court, according to the court ruling seen by the AFP. However, he maintains Tesla’s guilt and rejects the request for a new trial: “the weight of the evidence amply supports the conclusion of guilt”.
Tesla was sentenced in early October for turning a blind eye to the racism suffered by this man in the group’s factory in Fremont, California. In February, a California agency filed a racial discrimination complaint against Tesla at the same factory, accusing the automaker of “racial segregation” in the workplace. Hired through a recruitment agency, Owen Diaz had worked as a lift operator between June 2015 and July 2016 in this factory, where he had suffered racist insults and a hostile work environment, according to court documents.
During the trial, he explained that African-Americans in the factory, where his son also worked, were regularly victims of racist nicknames and denigration. Mr. Diaz also said that despite complaints to the hierarchy, Tesla did not react to put an end to habitual racism. Tesla vice president of human resources, Valerie Capers Workman, admitted some of the facts in a press release published in the wake of the verdict.
She mentioned that at the Fremont plant, other employees testified to having “regularly heard racial slurs”, including the word “nigger”. According to her, these employees said that “most of the time, they thought that this language was used in a ‘friendly’ way and in general by African-American colleagues”. She said Tesla responded to Owen Diaz’s complaints by firing two contractors.
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