Judge affirms jury’s verdict in Tesla racism lawsuit but reduces $137 million payout

US District Choose William Orrick has rejected Tesla’s argument that it is not liable to Owen Diaz, in keeping with The Wall Road Journal and Reuters, Diaz is a former Black Tesla employee who accused the corporate of turning a blind eye to the racial abuse he suffered whereas working at its Fremont, California manufacturing unit from 2015 to 2016. Final yr, a jury dominated in favor of Diaz and awarded him $6.9 million in compensatory damages, in addition to $130 million in punitive damages. Orrick has affirmed the jury’s verdict however decreased the award to $15 million.

To be precise, he decreased the compensatory damages awarded to Diaz to $1.5 million from $6.9 million, which he referred to as “extreme.” He additionally slashed the “unconstitutionally massive” punitive damages award from $130 million to $13.5 million. Punitive damages awarded by courts are supposed to punish a defendant and deter them from repeating their actions — or, in Tesla’s case, from allegedly ignoring the racial abuse of a Black employee. Tesla has a market worth exceeding $1 trillion, nonetheless, and $13.5 million is a drop within the bucket for the automaker. Diaz’s lawyer mentioned they plan to attraction the lowered damages award.

Nonetheless, Choose Orrick agreed that Tesla confirmed a “putting” indifference to Diaz’s plight. In his authentic lawsuit, Diaz mentioned he wasn’t simply subjected to racial slurs, fellow staff (and even one supervisor) additionally left drawings of swastika and racist graffiti across the plant. He mentioned Tesla’s administration uncared for to halt the abuse. Choose Orrick wrote in his ruling:

“Not solely does the proof assist a discovering of recklessness or indifference to Diaz’s well being and security, it helps a discovering that Tesla deliberately constructed an employment construction that allowed it to reap the benefits of Diaz’s (and others’) labor for its profit whereas making an attempt to keep away from any of the obligations and obligations that employers owe staff.”

Tesla has confronted a number of racial discrimination lawsuits through the years aside from Diaz’s, with staff claiming that they had been subjected to fixed racial abuse in its factories. In February, the California Division of Honest Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit in opposition to the automaker after discovering proof that its “Fremont manufacturing unit is a racially segregated office” the place Black staff are discriminated in opposition to. Tesla denied the allegations, saying it “opposes all types of discrimination and discrimination” and that it has a “devoted Worker Relations crew that responds to and investigates all complaints.”

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