Tesla to pay $137 million in damages for racial discrimination


11 October 2021

By Josh Fresle

Electric car manufacturer, Tesla, have been ordered to pay $137 million to a worker for racial harassment.

An employee of Tesla who worked as a lift operator from 2015 to 2016 in Fresno, California, has been awarded the equivalent of £101 million in damages after being subjected to various racially aggravated acts at work.

The court heard that black workers were regularly subject to racial slurs and graffiti and Tesla failed to take reasonable steps to prevent racial abuse.

In England, discrimination occurs when someone is treated unfairly on the basis of one of the nine protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010. Discrimination can occur directly (i.e. where someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic) and indirectly (i.e. where rules apply to a group of employees but are, in practice, unfair to someone with a protected characteristic).

If an employee discriminates against another employee, an employer made be held accountable if it has failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring. It is vital that employers take care to ensure the protection of their employees and maintain a fair working environment for all. Amongst other things, employers can regularly review and update their equality policies, provide anti-discrimination training and take other similar steps to raise awareness. It is also important to have a clear complaints procedure in place and ensure employees are aware of the investigation and disciplinary processes.

If you are an employer who would like advice on equality, grievance or disciplinary policies, or an employee who has been subject to discrimination, our employment team are on hand to provide assistance.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.