Tesla ‘saboteur’ sued by automaker says he was whistleblower

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A recently fired Tesla technician being sued by his former employer for corporate sabotage alleges he was actually a whistleblower fed up with what he called alarming practices inside the company.

Tesla Motors levelled the lawsuit accusing Martin Tripp of “hacking the company’s computer systems in order to steal confidential photos and video of Tesla’s manufacturing systems and other trade secrets” on June 20, the Washington Post reports, and the next day said a friend of Tripp’s called to say Tripp was planning on showing up to Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory to “shoot the place up.”

Tripp denies ever making such a threat, and supplied the newspaper with a June 20 email exchange between himself and CEO Elon Musk where he says the same to the executive.

The Storey County sheriff’s office launched an investigation after receiving a call from the plant, but so far has determined that “there was no credible threat.” Tesla is nevertheless upgrading its security as a precaution.

While Tesla’s lawyers say Tripp, who was fired last week after working as a technician at the Gigafactory for about eight months, was upset over losing a promotion, Tripp says the row between him and the company was borne over his role as a whistleblower. He alleges he was alarmed the company was installing what he called “dangerously punctured batteries” in its Model 3s, and told the Post has documents to support his claims.

Tesla in rebuttal has said Tripp’s claims were misconstrued or false, and, contrary to other allegations made by Tripp, that CEO Musk has never misreported the Model 3’s production numbers.

After revealing some of his evidence to outlets like Business Insider, Tripp is now seeking whistleblower protections and has changed addresses for his family’s safety.

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