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Monday, May 27, 2024

Jury choice begins for Tesla racial discrimination lawsuit


Tesla is again in courtroom this week to defend itself in opposition to allegations from a Black former employee who claimed the automaker’s Fremont manufacturing unit is rife with racial discrimination and harassment. Tesla and the plaintiff, Owen Diaz, are scheduled to seem in U.S. District Court docket in San Francisco this week after jury choice begins Monday.

Diaz is in search of compensatory and punitive damages after alleging that colleagues repeatedly referred to as him racist slurs, drew racist caricatures and swastikas, and usually offered a hostile work atmosphere within the 9 months between 2015 and 2016 that he labored as an elevator operator on the plant. Tesla administration, he claims, did nothing to halt the abuse. 

The brand new trial comes after Diaz and his legal professionals rejected a $15 million payout final June, which Decide William Orrick lowered from a jury-awarded $137 million damages. Orrick had slashed the compensatory damages from $6.9 million to $1.5 million, in addition to punitive damages from $130 million to $13.5 million, saying on the time that the jury award was extreme.

Orrick additionally mentioned he couldn’t discover a controlling query of legislation to justify a right away enchantment of the lowered award, and that permitting for one would additional delay a case that’s already 5 years outdated. Diaz’s legal professionals mentioned the payout was unjust and wouldn’t deter future misconduct by Tesla.

Going again to courtroom is a bet for Diaz, who dangers the opportunity of even decrease damages on account of the brand new trial. Helen Rella, head of the employment legislation division at legislation agency Wilk Auslander, beforehand instructed TechCrunch that the probably end result, nonetheless, is for Diaz to be awarded one thing in between the $15 million and $137 million award.

Tesla has traditionally denied any wrongdoing. The corporate disbanded its press workplace in 2020 and couldn’t be reached for remark.

The rehashing of Diaz’s case comes as Tesla continues to battle in opposition to California’s Civil Rights Division (CRD) in a separate racial bias lawsuit. The CRD first sued Tesla in February 2022 after receiving allegations that the automaker’s Fremont manufacturing unit is a racially segregated office the place Black employees undergo from harassment, unequal pay and a hostile work atmosphere. Earlier this month, a choose dominated that the CRD should present Tesla with particulars of the investigation it carried out previous to submitting swimsuit in opposition to the automaker. If the CRD wasn’t thorough sufficient in its investigations, Tesla may have the ability to have sure claims dismissed.

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