Anti-Black racism just cost Tesla just under $137 million on Monday after a Black man who, in 2015, was contracted to work at the company’s Fremont, California, plant as an elevator operator, sued the company over the racial harassment he said he received while working there.
According to Bloomberg Equality, Owen Diaz said while he worked at Tesla, his co-workers taunted him with racial slurs, racial graffiti and suggestions that he “go back to Africa,” which, for some reason, is the go-to for American bigots who could just as easily take themselves back to Europe where their own ancestors likely came from.
Diaz reportedly testified in court that, due to the racist treatment he received, he suffered “sleepless nights” and other ailments affecting his health.
“Some days I would just sit on my stairs and cry,” he said, Bloomberg reported.
After hearing his testimony, the jury awarded Diaz $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress. David Oppenheimer, a clinical professor of law at Berkeley Law, told Bloomberg that he believed it was the “largest verdict in an individual race discrimination in employment case.”
In response to the ruling, Tesla VP of people, Valerie Capers Workman, who is Black, penned a blog post that seemingly acknowledged her company’s racist past—saying, “in late 2015 and early 2016 Tesla failed to make sure that one contract employee (Owen Diaz) was not racially harassed while he worked at the Tesla Fremont factory”—just before going on to respond to Diaz’ claims the way white people virtually always respond to Black people’s claims of racism: She basically looked for any and every excuse to deny any racism happened at all.
In a list of what Workman appeared to believe were inconsistencies in Diaz’ testimony, she wrote: “In addition to Mr. Diaz, three other witnesses (all non-Tesla contract employees) testified at trial that they regularly heard racial slurs (including the n-word) on the Fremont factory floor. While they all agreed that the use of the n-word was not appropriate in the workplace, they also agreed that most of the time they thought the language was used in a ‘friendly’ manner and usually by African-American colleagues.”
That sure is a lot of words just to say, “but…but…but Black people say it all the time!”
“We acknowledge that we still have work to do to ensure that every employee feels that they can bring their whole self to work at Tesla,” Workman wrote. “And as I posted in July, we will continue to remind everyone who enters the Tesla workplace that any discriminatory slurs – no matter the intent or who is using them – will not be tolerated.”
Imagine writing that in the same post where you just finished writing a whole point-by-point list denying a Black man’s claims of racism in the first place.
It’s worth mentioning that Diaz isn’t the first person to file a complaint against Tesla over racism.
According to Business Insider, Tesla was ordered in August to pay $1 million in damages to Melvin Berry, a Black former employee who also started working for the company in 2015 but resigned a year later after he said his supervisors called him the n-word and after he also saw racist graffiti on the walls while at work.
Also, in July, sworn testimonies from Black Tesla employees obtained by Protocol revealed similar stories involving racial slurs, racist graffiti and plantation jokes.
In fact, one employee, Aaron Craven, claimed he was “directly called n****r approximately 100 times at the Fremont factory.”
Craven’s testimony was just one among 104 claims under oath that Tesla is still very much a facilitator of racist work environments.
So, is everybody lying, or is Tesla just racist?