Ex-Tesla Factory Loses Bid For New Trial In Racial Bias Case

Ex-Tesla Factory Loses Bid For New Trial In Racial Bias Case

*Originally Reported by Reuters.com

Oct 4 (Reuters) – A Black former factory worker for Tesla lost his bid on Wednesday for a third trial in his race discrimination lawsuit against the electric carmaker, after a California federal judge rejected his claims that the company’s lawyers had engaged in misconduct and tainted his trial.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco in a written order upheld a $3.2 million verdict that a jury awarded to plaintiff Owen Diaz in April, denying his motion for a new trial while also rejecting Tesla’s bid to cut the award in half.

The decision is a mixed result for the electric carmaker, staving off another lengthy trial while drawing new attention to the case, one of several, the most recent of which was filed by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last week, to allege rampant racial harassment at Tesla’s flagship Fremont, California assembly plant.

Diaz, a former elevator operator, claimed he was subjected to daily racist slurs and graffiti and that Tesla ignored his complaints.

is lawyers had argued that Tesla’s legal team asked improper questions, baselessly accused a witness of lying and made misleading statements to the jury during a five-day trial earlier this year.

Orrick on Wednesday said any misconduct by the company’s lawyers had not improperly influenced the jury.

Diaz had been awarded $137 million by a different jury in 2021, but Orrick that year ruled that the verdict was excessive. The judge ordered the second trial to determine damages after Diaz turned down a lower payout of $15 million.

Tesla and lawyers for Diaz did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Orrick barred both sides from presenting new evidence or testimony at the second trial, which took place in March.

Diaz claimed that Tesla’s lawyers violated that directive by questioning him and other witnesses about alleged altercations between Diaz and other workers, which had not come up at the first trial. Diaz denies those incidents took place.

Tesla has said it does not tolerate discrimination and takes complaints from workers seriously.

The company has also denied wrongdoing in several other lawsuits claiming employees at the Fremont plant and other factories and service centers have faced racial or sexual harassment.

Those cases include a proposed class action by Black workers and a lawsuit by a California state agency alleging widespread race discrimination at the Fremont plant, which Tesla claims was politically motivated.

Last week, Tesla was also sued by the EEOC, which claims that since 2015 Black factory workers have routinely been subjected to racist slurs and graffiti and retaliated against for complaining about the harassment.

Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Alexia Garamfalvi.

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