Tesla sues former employee for allegedly stealing gigabytes of data, making false claims to media

  • Tesla is suing former process engineer Martin Tripp for allegedly illegally exporting data and making false claims to reporters.
  • The suit alleges he took his action in retaliation for being reassigned after he allegedly had job performance problems and was combative and disruptive toward fellow employees.

Tesla is suing a former employee for allegedly illegally exporting gigabytes of confidential data, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Nevada.

The electric car maker said it is only beginning to understand all of former process technician Martin Tripp's allegedly illegal activity. The suit said, Tripp "has thus far admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla's manufacturing operating system ('MOS') and to transferring several gigabytes of Tesla data to outside entities."

The data include "dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla's manufacturing systems."

In addition to that, Tesla alleges Tripp wrote computer code to periodically export Tesla's data to people outside the company.

Furthermore, the suit alleges that Tripp made false statements to the media.

"For example, Tripp claimed that punctured battery cells had been used in certain Model 3 vehicles even though no punctured cells were ever used in vehicles, batteries or otherwise," the suit said. "Tripp also vastly exaggerated the true amount and value of 'scrap' material that Tesla generated during the manufacturing process, and falsely claimed that Tesla was delayed in bringing new manufacturing equipment online."

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
Justin Chin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

Tesla said in the suit that Tripp had complained he had not been given a more senior role in the company and was combative and disruptive with fellow employees. The suit alleges Tripp took his actions in retaliation for being reassigned to a new role within Tesla.

Tesla declined to comment on the lawsuit. Tripp could not be located for comment.

This comes a day after CNBC reported that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had sent an email to Tesla employees alleging that a worker had committed extensive sabotage. CNBC has since learned that the employee named in the lawsuit is the same one referenced in the email.

Here is the full lawsuit:

Download the full PDF here.

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