Last year, Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator hired at Tesla’s Fremont Assembly Plant, successfully sued the automaker for creating a hostile and racially abusive work environment, and was awarded $137 million by the jury. That award was reduced to just $15 million by a judge who gave Diaz two weeks to accept or reject the new amount. As reported by bloomberg, Díaz’s lawyers have opted for the latter option.
“Rejecting the court’s excessive downsizing by calling for a new trial, Mr. Diaz is again asking a jury of his peers to assess what Tesla did to him and to provide him with fair compensation for the torrent of racist slurs that has been committed against him. directed him.” Diaz’s lawyers in a statement to nbc news.
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2017, described a work environment in which black workers were regularly subjected to racial slurs and other abuse, and at least one supervisor allegedly told Diaz to “go back to Africa,” issues that he also claims that the company was negligent in addressing. Tesla has rejected some of Diaz’s claims, arguing that he took timely action to stop the harassment, as well as stating that these racial slurs were “used in a ‘friendly’ manner and generally by African-American colleagues.” He also argued that he was not responsible for the treatment Diaz received given his status as a contractor.
Last year, a Diaz jury paid a total of $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages, which would likely have amounted to one of those in a corporate racial discrimination lawsuit. US District Judge William Orrick, in an opinion filed in April, asserts that Tesla was not responsible for a contract employee, but also slashed the amount of the award, calling it “excessive.” The amount of compensatory damages to $1.5 million and punitive damages to $13.5 million. Since Díaz’s lawyers have now rejected the award, the case will proceed to a new trial.
The automaker is also facing another lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on behalf of more than 4,000 former and current Black Tesla employees. According to three former Tesla workers for the Los Angeles TimesBlack workers at the Fremont facility were segregated, assigned the most difficult tasks, and subject to more discipline than other workers.
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