Tesla sues ex-employee who claims whistleblower status

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2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range electric car, road test in greater Atlanta area, Feb 2018

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused an ex-employee of being a saboteur, Tesla filed suit against former Gigafactory technician Martin Tripp on Wednesday in a Nevada federal court, according to a Thursday report in the . The lawsuit accuses Tripp of stealing confidential photos and video of Tesla’s manufacturing systems and other trade secrets. Furthermore, the suit alleges that Tripp provided false information to the media and attempted to recruit other Tesla employees to join his backlash.

Emails have become public that show bitter dialog between the Musk and Tripp. At one point in the exchange the CEO called the ex-employee a “horrible human being.” Tripp fired back and said putting unsafe cars on the road is being a “horrible human being.” The ex-employee alleges the Gigafactory has installed punctured batteries in some Tesla Model 3 electric cars. He added he has documents to support his claims.

Following the debacle, Tripp is now seeking a lawyer and official whistleblower protections. Tesla denied the punctured battery claim and said Tripp’s words are exaggerated or misconstrued.

Earlier this week, Musk urged employees to stay alert about the possibility of a saboteur, referring to Tripp, who worked at the Gigafactory from last October until recently. Tesla claimed Tripp was a disgruntled employee after losing a promotion opportunity. Tripp believes he’s a whistleblower exposing unsafe practices inside the Silicon Valley automaker.

Tesla also claims a friend of Tripp’s phoned the company and said the man had plans to “shoot the place up,” referring to the Gigafactory. Tripp told the in a Thursday report that the accusation is entirely false. He called the automaker’s claims “absurd” and “insane.”

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