Even though a federal judge in California lowered a $137 million jury verdict in a factory worker’s racial discrimination lawsuit, Tesla Inc wants a totally new trial. The company insists that moving forward with a narrower trial based on the issue of damages is unconstitutional.
On Friday, Tesla’s lawyers explained (in a legal filing) in San Francisco federal court that jurors can’t decide how much the company should pay Owen Diaz without all the necessary information. Jurors would need to initially hear all of the evidence about the harassment Diaz said he dealt with at the company’s flagship Fremont, California assembly plant.
Tesla’s legal team also said that telling the jury the company has already been found liable for allowing discrimination would make them most likely to side with Diaz. This would violate Tesla’s right to a fair trial, they continued.
Back in 2017, the worker filed a lawsuit that stated his fellow employees used racist language and drew slurs and swastikas on bathroom walls at their plant. He also claimed that one of his supervisors drew a racist picture close to his workstation. Last year, a jury awarded Diaz $137 million, which is one of the most notable verdicts ever in a discrimination case involving just one worker.
In April, Judge William Orrick said the evidence did support the jury’s conclusion that Tesla was liable for discrimination. However, he lowered the amount owed to $15 million because he believed that $137 million was too much.
A hearing on Tesla’s motion is scheduled to take place on December 7 by U.S. District Judge William Orrick. In addition, the damages trial will take place in March.