(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. hasn’t learned a lesson from a jury verdict ordering it to pay $137 million for having turned a blind eye to racial discrimination, a former worker said in a court filing, urging a judge to uphold the award.
Tesla has asked the judge to set aside the “staggering” verdict and order a new trial.
“Unless the court holds Tesla fully accountable for its conduct, including by accepting the jury’s deterrent punitive damages award, Tesla will continue to engage in the same reprehensible conduct,” Owen Diaz, a former contractor, said in a filing Tuesday. “Tesla’s post-trial briefing shows that it has still not learned its lesson.”
The Oct. 4 award to 53-year-old Diaz by jurors in San Francisco federal court is believed to be one of the largest in U.S. history for an individual plaintiff in a racial discrimination case.
Diaz, who was hired in 2015 through a staffing agency, was subjected to a racially hostile work environment, the jury found.
“Under Tesla’s retelling, it was completely unaware that Mr. Diaz had orally complained about being called “n****r” by two supervisors more than 60 times,” Diaz’s lawyers wrote in the filing Tuesday. “The jury emphatically disagreed with Tesla’s self-serving, counterfactual fantasy, which was no more persuasive at trial than it is now.”
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In a Nov. 17 filing seeking the new trial, Tesla said it “abhors and condemns the use of all racial slurs.” It said the jury award was “without precedent in U.S. anti-discrimination law” and had to be set aside.
The judge could reduce the award, with legal precedent indicating that it might be cut in half, according to legal experts.
But Diaz said the judge’s answer to that idea should be a “resounding no.”
“The singularly reprehensible nature of Tesla’s conduct fully justifies the jury’s punitive damages award,” he said.
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