A Black former Tesla employee has only two weeks to accept $15 million in damages from a lawsuit over alleged racial harassment at the company, per Bloomberg. On Tuesday (June 7), U.S. District Judge William Orrick says Owen Diaz didn't provide "a controlling question of law" to justify his appeal of the reduced damages awarded to him in the case.
The former contractor accused the electric car maker of facilitating a hostile work environment at a Fremont, California factory, where his coworkers hurled slurs at him and showed offensive drawings. After a seven-day trial, the jury awarded him $6.9 million of compensatory damages and $130 million of punitive damages in October last year.
But, Orrick reduced those payouts to $1.5 million and $13.5 million respectively in April, citing court cases from decades ago as precedent. He also rejected Tesla's request for a new trial. Diaz's legal team immediately appealed this decision, arguing that the San Francisco judge didn't take into account inflation.
Orrick stands by the initial reward being too excessive and that Diaz's appeal "would further delay resolution of a case that is already five years old."
Now that they lost the appeal, Diaz can either accept the multimillion reward or reject the reduced reward. His lawyers haven't immediately responded to the judge's decision nor their next course of action.
When Diaz first won the case, it was believed to be one of the largest verdicts in U.S. history for an individual plaintiff in a racial discrimination case. Other Black workers testified suffering from similar acts and even given more physically and mentally demanding work.