The clock is ticking for Black former Tesla employee Owen Diaz to accept a sharply reduced jury award in a racial discrimination lawsuit he won against the electric car company.
On June 7, San Francisco U.S. District Judge William Orrick, who in April reduced the jury-awarded amount of $137 million to $15 million, gave Diaz two weeks to decide on accepting the amount, Reuters reports.
Orrick said he could find no controlling question of law to justify an immediate appeal of the reduced award. The judge added that the jury award was excessive and permitting a quick appeal “would further delay resolution of a case that is already five years old.”
Diaz’s attorneys didn’t immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comments but said previously that a question of law concerning damages for emotional distress justified an immediate appeal.
The federal jury in October awarded Diaz, an elevator operated at the Fremont, Calif. plant, damages totaling $136.9 million for racist incidents he suffered in 2015 and 2016. Diaz accused management of ignoring his complaints of co-workers, including a supervisor, repeatedly using a racial slur toward him. He also endured racist graffiti in the bathroom and derogatory caricatures of Black children in the workplace.
Meanwhile, Tesla is defending itself in court against another Black former worker with similar complaints about managers condoning a racist work environment.
Raina Pierce, who also worked at the Fremont plant, filed her discrimination lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on April 22 alleging that the company largely ignored her complaints about widespread racism at the facility. According to Pierce, supervisors would sometimes greet employees with “Welcome to the plantation” or “Welcome to the slave house” and supervisors called her the N-word.
State officials have also accused Tesla of racism. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing in February filed a lawsuit against the company, according to the San Jose Mercury News. It alleges that Tesla’s Fremont facility paid Black workers less than white workers. Black employees were also denied advancements and faced daily racist abuse, the suit claims.