Guy Got $137M in Tesla Racism Case. It's Now $3.2M

Tesla payout to former worker slashed by $134M
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
Guy Awarded $137M in Tesla Racism Case Sees That Amount Slashed 98%
A sign bearing the Tesla company logo is displayed outside a Tesla store in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Colorado, Feb. 9, 2019.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A year and a half after Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million to a former contract employee who alleged racist abuse at a company factory in California, the award has been slashed—by a whopping 98%, Bloomberg reports. Tesla challenged the original amount, and a judge said the original award granted to Owen Diaz was too high and that the maximum allowed under law would be $15 million. Diaz opted for a retrial on damages after the judge reduced the award to that amount, and the jury in that trial reached a verdict Monday. The new amount: $3.2 million in punitive damages, plus $175,000 for economic losses. His lawyers had asked the jury to award $150 million in punitive damages, or 15% of Tesla's cash flow at the time the abuse took place.

One of Diaz's lawyers accused Tesla of using a "minimize and sanitize" strategy, and says it's "just sad that those antics worked." He said he's requested the judge grant a new trial because of "misconduct." Diaz, who is Black, said workers at the Fremont factory used racist slurs and wrote racist epithets, symbols, and caricatures around the factory, and that Tesla did little to address his complaints. His son later started working at the factory and was subjected to the same abuse, he said, per the New York Times. Former contractors or employees have sued Tesla more than 200 times in the US since 2018. A former Tesla service manager, who is also Black, sued the company last week alleging racist discriminatory treatment from his manager, CNBC reports. (More Tesla stories.)

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