Melvin Berry, a former Tesla employee, has been awarded $1 million in damages after stating that his supervisors used racist insults toward him and that the Tesla workplace was vandalized with swastikas and hate symbols. Berry resigned from his work as a result of his experiences, alleging emotional distress.
Tesla was ordered to pay Melvin Berry approximately $266,000 in damages and $756,000 in attorney’s costs, according to court documents obtained by CBS News.
According to the court filings, Berry began working at Tesla in 2015 but he resigned less than a year later following an incident where he was called the N-word by supervisors at the ‘abusive and hostile’ California facility.
The workplace was defaced with racist iconography, including “graffiti with swastikas and other hate symbols or messages,” according to court records.
Numerous witnesses identified in the records testified that “the N-word was commonplace and tolerated.” On one occasion, Barry’s supervisor allegedly yelled, “N—–, what took you so long,” prompting Barry to take the next day off work. Berry claimed that his job caused him emotional hardship and that he cried or experienced panic attacks in response to alleged racist incidents.
Berry’s lawyer, Jeannette Vaccaro, told CBS MoneyWatch on Friday: “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 claims are not the first racial harassment allegations made by Black Tesla employees. As previously reported in Insider, a Black employee stated in sworn testimony that he was called the N-word “about 100 times” within the Tesla premises.
“I hope the public understands that an arbitrator concluded Tesla abuses its employees this way,” Berry told Bloomberg News, which broke the news.
CBS News said that Tesla previously refuted Berry’s charges, noting that the firm stated in a 2017 statement that it “is categorically opposed to any kind of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any type.”
Tesla did not immediately reply to the Insider’s request for comment.