Electric carmaker Tesla is once again going to trial for a racial discrimination lawsuit, as a federal judge in California ordered a new trial on the $15 million damages payout a former Black worker was to receive from the Elon Musk-owned company.

In October last year, Owen Diaz had been offered $137 million in damages by a jury. However, District Judge William Orrick who was presiding over the case brought the compensation down to $15 million. In addition, Orrick had denied Tesla’s motion for a new trial, dependent on Diaz’s acceptance of the award. 

Earlier this month, District Judge Orrick refused the former Tesla worker’s permission to appeal his ruling, instead offering him two weeks to accept the lower reward or go to trial once again. Last week, Diaz rejected the offer of compensation. 

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When news of Diaz’s rejection first broke last week, his lawyer, Lawrence Organ, told reporters that District Judge Orrick’s ruling displayed a systemic racial bias against juries, which violated constitutional rights held by plaintiffs. 

Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator and sued the automobile giant in 2017, said that during his time at the company from 2015 to 2016 at the flagship plant in California, he was subject to racial slurs and hateful symbols. 

As the announcement of a new trial was made, Organ told Reuters that they were hopeful a new jury would see their evidence in a “similar light” to the first, and he hoped that Diaz would get the justice “the jury system is supposed to provide to him.”

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This isn’t the first lawsuit that has come Tesla’s way. The company has been embroiled in a series of lawsuits alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. So much so that in June 2022, a shareholder from Texas filed a suit against Elon Musk and the company’s board of directors for ignoring workers’ complaints and fostering a toxic workplace culture.