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Tesla Sues Former Employee for Allegedly Sabotaging Company
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Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Photo courtesy of PC Mag.

Summary: Tesla is suing a former employee it labeled a “saboteur.” 

On Wednesday, Tesla sued a former worker for allegedly hacking the company and spreading false information to the media. The fired employee, Martin Tripp, told The Guardian that the company was using him as a “scapegoat.”


“I’m a scapegoat because I provided information that is absolutely true,” Tripp said to the Guardian on Wednesday night. “This is obscene … It feels like I have no rights as a whistleblower.”

Tripp said that on Wednesday he was patted down by the sheriff because Tesla had said he would “shoot the place up.” On Thursday, local police said that was not a credible threat.

In Wednesday’s lawsuit, Tesla said Tripp had hacked the company’s manufacturing operating system (MOS) so that other employees could be “falsely implicated as guilty parties,” and that Tripp had smeared the company’s name by leaking fake information to the media.

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But Tripp said he was a whistleblower, not a hacker. He admitted that he had given information to a Business Insider reporter about problems with Tesla’s manufacturing, but he said he did it because no one in the company would listen to his concerns.

“When it’s world impactful, when you’re lying to the world and investors about the cars you’re producing and how sustainable you are, when you’re saying one thing and doing another, the righteous thing is for the world to know,” Tripp said.

Tesla countered that Tripp was spreading false information and thus was not a whistleblower. They told The Guardian that they had received a phone call that Tripp had threatened to shoot up the company and that is why they alerted the police.

On Sunday evening, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk sent out an email that a Tesla employee was trying to “sabotage” the company’s operations, including making coding changes. Musk continued that the employee may be a mole for an organization wanting to destroy the innovative technology company.

On Monday, Musk sent out another email about the unnamed worker and his possible role in a fire at the company’s Fremont factory. Although Tripp was not named, news outlets identified him.

In Tesla’s lawsuit, they said that Tripp was angry that he did not receive a promotion, but Tripp said he leaked information to Business Insider because they used “nonconforming material” and battery cells that were mistakenly punctured. He said that he leaked Tesla’s MOS data to the publication but that he had not hacked it.

“I’m not that smart,” Tripp said. “I don’t know how to code. I tried to teach myself to code and I don’t have the patience.”

After the lawsuit was filed, Musk and Tripp engaged in a heated email exchange, which was mostly he said-he said. For example:

Musk: “Threatening me only makes it worse for you”

Tripp: “I never made a threat. I simply told you that you have what’s coming. Thank you for this gift!!!!”

Musk said that it was “unwise” of him to respond but that Tripp had initiated the exchange.

What do you think of Elon Musk and the lawsuit against Tripp? Let us know in the comments below.


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