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Judge Reduces Payout From $137 Million to $15M in Tesla Racism Lawsuit

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*A federal judge has slashed the $137 million dollars in damages awarded to a former Tesla employee who successfully sued the company last year for racial discrimination. 

A San Francisco federal court awarded former Tesla worker, Owen Diaz, 53, about $137 million after he sued the auto-maker, claiming he endured racist abuse working as an elevator operator at the production facility in Fremont, California. He came forward with the allegations in 2018, two years after he reportedly quit his job. 

Per CNBC , “the case was only able to move forward because Diaz had not signed one of Tesla’s mandatory arbitration agreements which the company uses to force employees to resolve disputes without a public trial.”

READ MORE: Due to ‘Hundreds’ of Racism Complaints California Sues Tesla | VIDEO

Here’s more from CNBC:

Diaz, a former contract worker who was hired at Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company through a staffing agency in 2015, faced a hostile work environment in which, he told the court, colleagues used epithets to denigrate him and other Black workers, told him to “go back to Africa” and left racist graffiti in the restrooms and a racist drawing in his workspace.

“We were able to put the jury in the shoes of our client,” Diaz’s attorney, J. Bernard Alexander told CNBC. “When Tesla came to court and tried to say they were zero tolerance and they were fulfilling their duty? The jury was just offended by that because it was actually zero responsibility.”

Diaz was awarded more than his legal team requested, $130 million in punitive damages and $6.9 million for emotional distress, per the report. However, last week the judge slashed the award from $137 million to $15 million.

Per Complex, Tesla executives requested a retrial, claiming the facts did not “justify the verdict.” On Wednesday, Judge William H. Orrick upheld the jury’s findings.

“Despite Tesla’s attempts to characterize it any other way, its treatment of Diaz — and the treatment of its supervisors and employees (or contractors) — falls high on the reprehensibility scale,” Orrick said in his ruling, as reported by the New York Times.

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