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Tesla faces new race bias trial from employee who had $137 million verdict slashed

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A San Francisco federal court on Monday to determine how much Tesla must pay a black elevator operator who a jury found was subjected to serious racial harassment while working at the electric car maker’s flagship assembly plant. trial begins.

The trial is expected to last five days. Last year, a judge handed down her $137 million sentence that a jury would hand down to plaintiff Owen Diaz in 2021. Diaz’s attorneys refused the reduced payment and opted for a new trial for damages.

After the 2021 trial, U.S. District Judge William Orrick agreed with the jury that Tesla was responsible for racism, but reduced the verdict to $15 million. Orrick is also presiding over this week’s trial, which prohibits both sides from presenting new evidence or calling in new witnesses.

As in the previous trial, Diaz and several employees and managers from the Fremont, Calif. plant are expected to testify.

In a 2017 lawsuit, Diaz accused managers of plant employees frequently writing racist slurs, scribbled swastikas, racist caricatures and cursing on walls and workstations, alleging that Tesla accused of inaction.

Diaz has been sued by Tesla for causing emotional distress under a California law that prohibits employers from failing to prevent hostile work environments based on race or other protected characteristics. sued.

A 2021 jury awarded Diaz approximately $7 million in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages.

Orrick last year reduced compensatory damages to $1.5 million and punitive damages to $13.5 million. He said he acknowledged the widespread harassment Diaz faced while reflecting that he had only worked at the factory for nine months and he did not claim any physical injury or illness.

Verdicts in employment discrimination cases rarely exceed $1 million. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that punitive damages generally cannot exceed ten times his compensatory damages.

Diaz’s attorney, Lawrence Organ, hopes the new jury will convince judges that the new jury will deliver a larger verdict than Orrick’s $15 million ruling, guaranteeing higher damages. I’m in

“Tesla is focused on getting that number to zero,” Organ said.

Tesla has said it does not tolerate discrimination, and a lawyer for the company did not respond to a request for comment. The company had asked Orrick to reduce the original jury award to below his $600,000.

Tesla is also accused of condoning widespread racial prejudice at its Fremont factory in a class action lawsuit in California state court and in a separate lawsuit by the state’s civil rights watchdog making similar allegations. Facing. Both cases are still in their early stages.

The outcome of Diaz’s trial will not directly affect these or any other lawsuits, but workers may file new lawsuits against the company as challenges to control the electric vehicle market increase. There is a possibility

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