Former Fremont worker requests a third trial for racial harassment after seeing award shrink from $137 million to $3.2 million

A former Tesla worker has asked for third trial for racial harassment he allegedly faced while employed at the Fremont factory in 2017. In his latest lawsuit Owen Diaz is accusing Tesla’s lawyers of “egregious misconduct” following a jury award of $3.2 million in the race bias case.

Diaz is seeking more money this time, claiming that Tesla’s lawyers asked inappropriate questions, falsely accused a witness of lying and made deceptive statements during closing arguments in the five-day trial in March.

In 2021, a different jury found Tesla liable for the racial harassment Diaz faced at the Fremont factory. The jury awarded Diaz $137 million, which a judge later called as excessive and ordered a second trial after Diaz rejected a reduced award of $15 million. The judge prohibited the presentation of new evidence or testimony at the retrial, but Diaz’s lawyers said that Tesla’s legal team improperly questioned him and other witnesses about alleged incidents of Diaz calling a coworker a “dumb Mexican” and sexually harassing female employees, which did not come up in the 2021 trial. (via Reuters)

While Diaz is seeking more money, Tesla moved to reduce the award to approximately $1.6 million, stating that the $3 million award of punitive damages to punish illegal conduct was too large in view of the $175,000 granted to Diaz for emotional distress. Diaz has also renewed a motion for a mistrial on similar grounds. Diaz had accused Tesla of failing to take action when he repeatedly complained to managers that coworkers used racist slurs and scrawled swastikas, racist caricatures and epithets on walls and work areas.

Tesla has rejected all accusations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment. The hearing for the motions is scheduled for July 19, 2023.

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