(Reuters) – A black former elevator operator at Tesla Inc.’s California flagship assembly plant on Tuesday rejected a $ 15 million award in his lawsuit alleging racist abuse by co-workers, which opened the door to a new trial after a judge ruled down $ 137 million jury decision.
Lawyers for Owen Diaz, who had sued Tesla in 2017, declined the judge’s award in a brief report to federal court in San Francisco. They said in a statement that the price was unfair and would not deter future malpractice from Tesla.
“By rejecting the court’s exaggerated reduction by requesting a new trial, Diaz once again asks a jury of his comrades to evaluate what Tesla did to him and to provide fair compensation for the stream of racist slander directed at him.”; said his lawyers.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick lowered the jury’s award, one of the largest of its kind in a discrimination lawsuit, to $ 15 million in April. He had also rejected Tesla’s motion for a new trial, provided Diaz accepted the lower price.
Earlier this month, Judge Diaz rejected a request for leave to appeal that decision, giving him two weeks to accept the lower price or agree to a new trial.
Tesla is facing a series of lawsuits involving alleged widespread racial discrimination and sexual harassment at its plant in Fremont, California, including one by a California civil rights agency.
Last week, a Tesla shareholder filed a lawsuit, accusing the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, and the board of neglecting workers’ complaints and promoting a toxic workplace culture.
Tesla has denied the crime and says it has policies in place to prevent and remedy workplace malpractice.
Mr Diaz claimed that his colleagues and a foreman exposed him to a hostile work environment that included slander, caricatures and swastikas during his nine months working at the Fremont plant in 2015 and 2016.
A jury had awarded Diaz $ 6.9 million in damages and $ 130 million in punitive damages in October last year, but Judge Orrick said in April that those numbers were exaggerated.