FREMONT, CA - MAY 12: Cars fill a parking lot at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk announced on twitter that he would restart production at factory in Fremont. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Judge cuts epic $137 million payout to Black Tesla employee alleging rampant racism

A Black employee sued Tesla for rampant racism and won a $137 million verdict. However, the damages has been slashed in amount by a judge.

The whole world gasped in amazement last year when a jury awarded Owen Diaz $137 million damages against Tesla. Diaz had worked as an elevator operator at Tesla’s Fremont factory for nine months between 2015 and 2016. He alleged to have been racially abused repeatedly, and Tesla failed to take action to protect him.

However, US District Judge William Orrick has slashed the damages Diaz can claim. Orrick sided with the ruling but said the compensation was excessive. He then reduced the amount by almost 90 percent, to $15 million. Tesla’s counsels wanted just $300,000.

In his ruling, which spans 43 pages, Orrick agreed the racial discrimination Diaz suffered was profound. He also took exception to Tesla’s attempt to downplay the incidents. However, Orrick considered that the high punitive damages would only cause a new trial, which seems to be constitutionally excessive.

Diaz said during the trial that he faced racial slurs every day on the job. He was called the n-word and fellow workers put up racist graffiti and cartoons. He was also told to go back to Africa. According to Diaz, his supervisors did intervene on many occasions. This caused the plaintiff sleepless nights, and he suffered weight loss.

The trial gained wide attention because of the verdict, as the damages award was unusually high. One jury expert called it “the largest verdict in an individual race discrimination in employment case [history].”

Meanwhile, Diaz’s attorneys want to appeal the reduced damages. Bernard Alexander, a counsel for Diaz, told Reuters, “We’re pleased that the court upheld the jury’s finding that Tesla’s conduct was absolutely reprehensible. The award of $15 million is substantial but does not come close to reflecting the harm caused to Mr. Diaz or the reprehensibility of Tesla’s conduct.”

Tesla has been involved in multiple harassment lawsuits. These include many allegations of racial discrimination and harassment at the Fremont factory, the company’s first plant. Tesla allegedly paid $1 million to Melvin Berry, another former employee who claimed to have been called the n-word by a supervisor. There is another class-action lawsuit by workers who claim to have suffered racism at the plant.

Apart from former employees, Tesla has been dragged to court by California’s civil rights agency. The agency alleges Tesla ran a racially segregated workplace.

Written by HackerVibes

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