(Reuters) – A federal jury on Monday ordered Tesla Inc. to pay more than $ 130 million in damages to a black worker and found him exposed to a racially abusive work environment, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The jury found that the company had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent Owen Diaz, a contract worker employed as an elevator operator at Tesla's plant in Fremont, California, in 2015 and 2016, from being racistly harassed, the newspaper said.
In a statement to employees that Tesla published on its website, the automaker noted the lawsuit regarding racial complaints heard on the factory floor and racist graffiti in the bathrooms.
It was also stated three times that Diaz complained about harassment, Tesla went in and made sure that measures were taken by staffing agencies.
The jury awarded Mr. Diaz $ 6.9 million in compensation damages and $ 1
"While we strongly believe that these facts do not justify the judgment reached by the San Francisco jury, we acknowledge that we were not perfect in 2015 and 2016," Tesla said.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a question from Reuters asking if it would appeal the verdict. Mr Diaz's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Before the trial began, President William Orrick rejected Tesla's efforts to exclude a jury member from the jury, saying he believed the attempt was racial and "intentionally discriminatory."
Tesla said in his blog post that since Mr. Diaz worked at the factory in Fremont, it had made changes, including setting up teams to investigate employee complaints and to ensure that employees had equal opportunities at the company.
Last year, the electric carmaker revealed in its first U.S. diversity report that black employees make up only 4% of Tesla's U.S. leadership roles and 10% of its total workforce in the country.