A Black elevator operator at Tesla Inc. TSLA, +1.05% who in 2021 was awarded $137 million by a jury that agreed he was subjected to racial harassment at the automaker’s Fremont, Calif. factory, then saw a judge reduce the award to $15 million last year, is back in San Francisco federal court Monday for a new trial. During the original trial, Owen Diaz testified that he was regularly called the N-word and other racial slurs, including by a supervisor, at work. A jury awarded him $130 million in punitive damages and about $7 million in compensatory damages, which the judge reduced to $13.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Diaz’s lawyers are hoping to increase the payout to their client as they re-argue the case before the same U.S. District Court judge, William Orrick, in a trial that is reportedly expected to last five days. Tesla had urged the judge to reduce the jury award to $600,000, with the company’s lawyers acknowledging in a filing that the use of racial slurs in a workplace was “deeply offensive” and “utterly unacceptable.”
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