"The award... is substantial but does not come close to reflecting the harm caused."
A judge has sided with Tesla and slashed by almost 90 percent the electric vehicle maker's payout to a former employee who had previously been awarded $137 million for racist treatment he experienced at the automaker.
In a ruling out of a California circuit court, a federal judge lowered former Tesla elevator operator Oscar Diaz's racial discrimination payout from that sum, awarded in October, to just $15 million, claiming that the original sum was "unconstitutionally large."
In his decision, US District Judge William Orrick said that although Diaz experienced "profound" racism at the company's Fremont factory, where he was regularly called the n-word and other "daily racist epithets" that the company's human resources department subsequently ignored, the EV manufacturer should not be unduly punished with the largest racial discrimination payout in history.
"Tesla argues that the compensatory damages are improperly punitive," Judge Orrick wrote in the 43-page decision on the reduction. "Tesla, again, has the principle correct: compensatory damages serve the goal of making the plaintiff whole while punitive damages punish the defendant and deter misconduct."
In an interview with Reuters, Diaz's attorney Bernard Alexander said the former Tesla employee will be appealing the ruling.
"The award of $15 million is substantial but does not come close to reflecting the harm caused to Mr. Diaz, or the reprehensibility of Tesla's conduct," Alexander told the news service.
This is far from the first time Tesla has been accused of discrimination or ruled against in a lawsuit of its kind, which has even attracted the state of California's attention in yet another suit alleging significant racism at their Fremont factory.
But it might be bad news for future Tesla employees alleging discrimination at the company — or, for that matter, any of Elon Musk's other companies, especially as he's actively trying to buy Twitter.
READ MORE: Judge finds Tesla liable to Black former worker who alleged bias, but slashes payout [Reuters]
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