Law360 Employment Authority: Tesla Race Harassment Verdict Is A Warning To Employers
In an article published in Law360 Employment Authority on October 25, 2021, labor and employment attorney Aimee Schnecker discusses the recent case of Diaz v. Tesla Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The jury awarded Diaz $6.9 million to compensate him for lost earnings, pain, and suffering, and $130 million to punish Tesla. This landmark verdict is a cautionary tale for employers regarding the treatment of employees and contractors alike.
While Tesla claimed that Diaz was not an employee entitled to bring a discrimination claim, the jury looked past this superficial distinction and found that Tesla was subject to liability as Diaz’s joint employer. In awarding the whopping $137 million verdict, the jury sent a clear message to Tesla and employers across the country: When it comes to charges of discrimination, the company that runs the facility is responsible for the culture there and cannot hide behind a legal technicality — in this case, a contract — that says they are not the primary employer.
Aimee is an attorney in the Labor and Employment department. She focuses her practice on representing employers in all aspects of labor and employment law, including employment-related agreements, executive compensation, employee benefits, internal investigations, wage and hour matters, as well as employment litigation.