A former elevator worker at Tesla has 14 days to determine if he will collect $15 million for the damages caused by racial abuse while working at the company’s Fremont, California factory.
According to TechCrunch, Owen Diaz was originally set to receive $137 million after the company turned a blind eye to the racial harassment and discrimination that he endured at the electric vehicle (EV) plant. After Tesla challenged the verdict brought forth on behalf of the former employee, whose race is Black, the payout was diminished to $15 million.
Now, the original $6.9 million that Diaz was set to receive for compensatory damages has been reduced to $1.5 million. Punitive damages went from $130 million to $13.5 million.
Why Was The Initial Amount Lowered?
On Tuesday (June 7), a San Francisco-based U.S. district judge, William Orrick, ordered that there was “no controlling question of law” that would allow an immediate appeal of the award now that it has been reduced.
Furthermore, he said that the jury award was excessive and that any quick appeal “would further delay resolution of a case that is already five years old.”
A testimony revealed that Diaz was harassed by fellow employees, as well as a supervisor at the Tesla factory, who hurled racial slurs at him. Those insults included the N-word. He also shared that throughout the nine months that he was with Tesla, the same individuals drew swastikas and racist caricatures of him among other discriminatory behavior.
Tesla Fights Back
In addition to the suit from Diaz, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), previously reported by AfroTech, is also suing the smart car company over further allegations of racism and harassment toward Black employees at the same factory.
Tesla’s response to the suit included a complaint filed in April that said that the agency surpassed its legal authority with the lawsuit.