Tesla’s flagship California assembly plant has been under fire lately for its treatment of past and present coworkers.
In the case of Owen Diaz, a Black former elevator operator at that very location, he had sued the company in 2017, alleging racial abuse by coworkers. Diaz said he was a victim of racism and his colleagues called him the n-word and other racial slurs while on the job. He recently turned down a $15 million award in his lawsuit against the company.
According to NBC News, Diaz opened the door for a judge to consider a new trial. The initial verdict was reduced from $137 million to $15 million. Judge William Orrick said that the damages were excessive and unconstitutional.
A statement filed by Diaz’s lawyers said that the award was “unjust” and “would not deter future misconduct by Tesla.”
“In rejecting the court’s excessive reduction by asking for a new trial, Mr. Diaz is again asking a jury of his peers to evaluate what Tesla did to him and to provide just compensation for the torrent of racist slurs that were directed at him,” his lawyers said.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As one of the largest awards of its kind in a discrimination lawsuit, U.S. District Judge William Orrick lowered it to $15 million in April. He had also denied Tesla’s motion for permission to appeal that ruling and gave Diaz two weeks to accept the lower award or agree to a new trial.
Tesla is facing a series of lawsuits involving alleged widespread race discrimination and sexual harassment at its Fremont, California factory, including one by a California civil rights agency.