Owen Diaz and his son Demetric Di-az accuse Tesla of discrimination and a trial is scheduled for May 11, 2020.
A federal judge rejected Tesla Inc’s effort to dismiss claims by two former workers that the California electric car factory where they worked was a hotbed of racial hostility, clearing the way for a possible trial.
In a decision on Monday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco found open questions over whether Owen Diaz and his son Demetric Di-az faced “severe and pervasive racial harassment” in 2015 and 2016 at Tesla’s factory in suburban Fremont, which employs more than 10,000 people.
The plaintiffs, who are black, said they were subjected to repeated racial epithets dozens of times, as well as racist cartoons, and that supervisors engaged in or did little to stop the racism.
Orrick said Diaz could pursue claims that Tesla allowed and did not take reasonable steps to stop racial harassment.
He said punitive damages might be available if Tesla must have known about the harassment and “ratified” it, even if only lower level workers were directly involved.
“The n-word is perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English, a word expressive of racial hatred and bigotry,” Orrick wrote. “This case will proceed to trial.”
A trial is scheduled for May 11, 2020.
Tesla and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.