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Former Tesla worker rejects R239 million payout, which was awarded following claims of racial abuse

Business Insider US
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • A former Tesla worker has rejected a $15 million (around R239 million) payout, according to a San Francisco court filing.
  • Owen Diaz, a former Tesla elevator operator, has accused the company of racial abuse.
  • Diaz won a payout of $137 million (around R2 billion) in November 2021 but this was later slashed to $15 million (around R239 million). 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Owen Diaz, a former Tesla elevator operator, has rejected a $15 million (around R239 million) payout, which was awarded after he filed a racial abuse lawsuit.

Lawyers for Diaz turned down the payout in a filing in federal court in San Francisco. They said they believed the award was unjust and the payout was not enough to deter further racial abuse at Tesla.

This means both Tesla and Diaz are heading back to court to fight the lawsuit for a second time.

Diaz won the original court case in October 2021 but the jury payout was slashed from $137 million (around R2 billion) to $15 million (around R239 million) in April 2022.

Insider reported that Tesla had argued the amount should be lowered to $600,000 (around R9.5 million) and filed a motion for a new trial. The motion was denied by the judge on the condition Diaz accepted the payout.

Lawyers for Diaz wrote in the filing that by rejecting the slashed payout he was asking a jury to evaluate what Tesla did to him and "provide just compensation for the torrent of racist slurs that was directed at him."

Tesla and Diaz's lawyer did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside normal working hours.

Diaz alleged in his lawsuit that Tesla colleagues at the company's Fremont, California, assembly plant would verbally abuse black workers, once telling him to "go back to Africa." He alleged that the constant abuse led him to suffer weight loss and sleepless nights, Insider reported.

Tesla is also fighting a lawsuit brought by a former worker that accused the company of fostering a culture of sexual harassment, as well as a lawsuit from one of its investors that accuses the company of creating a toxic work culture.


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