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Former Tesla Worker Rejects $15 Million Settlement Award in Racism Case

On Tuesday, a Black former Tesla worker rejected a $15 million award in his lawsuit that alleged racial abuse by coworkers. 

Owen Diaz, a former elevator operator at Tesla’s flagship assembly plant in Fremont, California, sued the company in 2017, alleging that he was harassed and faced “daily racist epithets,” including the “N-word,” while working at the plant. 

The suit alleged that employees drew swastikas, left racist graffiti and drawings around the plant and that supervisors failed to stop the abuse.

Diaz was originally awarded $6.9 million in damages for emotional distress and $130 million in punitive damages in the case, however in April U.S. District Judge Wiliam Orrick decreased the jury’s award by nearly 90% to $15 million.

Lawyers representing Diaz said the award was turned down because their client feels it was unjust and would not deter future misconduct by Tesla. 

“In rejecting the court’s excessive reduction by asking for a new trial, Mr. Diaz is again asking a jury of his peers to evaluate what Tesla did to him and to provide just compensation for the torrent of racist slurs that was directed at him,” his lawyers said.

Tesla has denied wrongdoing and says it has policies in place to prevent and address workplace misconduct.

Diaz’s rejection of the award could mean a new trial in the case.

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