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An ex-Tesla employee who alleged he was called racial slurs, including the N-word, was awarded $1 million

An ex-Tesla employee who alleged he was called racial slurs, including the N-word, was awarded $1 million




a car parked in a parking lot: Workers in orange vests are seen outside Tesla's primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk defied local restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, California, May 12, 2020. Stephen Lam/Reuters


© Stephen Lam/Reuters
Workers in orange vests are seen outside Tesla’s primary vehicle factory after CEO Elon Musk defied local restrictions by reopening the plant in Fremont, California, May 12, 2020. Stephen Lam/Reuters

  • A former Tesla employee has won $1 million after alleging his supervisors called him racial slurs.
  • Melvin Berry alleged that the work environment was vandalized with swastikas and hate symbols.
  • Berry’s experiences led him to resign from his job, citing emotional distress from his experience.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A former Tesla employee who took legal action against the company, alleging that he was called racial slurs on the job, was awarded more than $1 million, according to media reports.

Tesla will have to pay Melvin Berry roughly $266,000 in damages and $756,000 in attorney’s fees, the arbitrator ruled, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.

Berry started working at Tesla in 2015 but resigned a little more than a year later after being called the N-word by supervisors in the “abusive and hostile” workplace at the California-based factory, according to the documents.

The work environment was vandalized with racist imagery, which “included graffiti with swastikas and other hate symbols or messages,” court documents said.

Multiple witnesses named in the documents alleged that “the N-word was commonplace and tolerated.” In one instance, Barry’s supervisor said: “N—–, what took you so long,” resulting in Barry taking the next day off work, the documents alleged.

Berry testified that his time on the job caused him emotional distress, and that he cried or had panic attacks after alleged racist confrontations, according to the documents.

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch on Friday, the lawyer representing Berry, Jeannette Vaccaro, said: “We hope that this award of over $1 million will inspire change at Tesla and send a message to all employers that harassment and discrimination have no place at work.”

Berry’s allegations are not the first racial harassment allegations from Black Tesla employees. As Insider’s Allana Akhtar previously reported, in a sworn testimony a Black worker said he was called the N-word “approximately 100 times.”

“I hope the world knows that an arbitrator found Tesla treats its employees like this,” Berry told Bloomberg News, which first reported the story.

CBS News reported that Tesla has previously denied Berry’s allegations, and noted that in a 2017 statement, the company said it “is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment or unfair treatment of any kind.”

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