Tesla lawsuit: Former employee claims he’s a whistleblower

22 Jun 2018

Tesla supercharger station. Image: ricochet64/Shutterstock

Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp says Elon Musk is trying to sabotage his reputation.

It has only been a handful of days since Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed there was a saboteur within the organisation who had allegedly changed code in the firm’s manufacturing systems and exported data to third parties outside the company.

Who is Martin Tripp?

It emerged later in the week that Musk had filed a lawsuit against Martin Tripp, a former Tesla technician. Claims from the autotech firm that Tripp was threatening to go to his former workplace and “shoot the place up” have been denied by him, and the local sheriff’s office announced that there was no credible threat to the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. Tripp is seeking official whistleblower protections and an attorney.

A statement from a spokesperson for the Storey County sheriff’s office was published in CNBC and it read: “After several hours of investigation, deputies were able to determine there was no credible threat. Further investigation into the threat’s origin continues. No additional information concerning the ongoing investigation will be released until it’s [sic] conclusion to protect the investigative process.”

False claims

Tripp told The Guardian“I’m a scapegoat because I provided information that is absolutely true. This is obscene. It feels like I have no rights as a whistleblower.” He said he was being sued as he was trying to shine a light on the problems at the company, including using damaged battery modules in Model 3 cars, inflating the number of Model 3s produced and storing an excessive amount of scrap in Nevada.

Tesla’s suit against Tripp alleged that he “unlawfully hacked” the company’s manufacturing operation system, writing code that would send secret data to third parties and planting the code on three different systems to falsely implicate other Tesla employees. The company also said that Tripp made claims to the media about information he stole. According to The Washington Post, Tripp was also accused of being disruptive in the working environment.

Emails leaked between Musk and Tripp show a combative exchange between the two men, where Musk called the latter a “horrible human being” who should be “ashamed” of himself. Tripp denies being sore over missing out on a promotion. He and his family have temporarily vacated their home after their address was leaked online.

Tesla supercharger station. Image: ricochet64/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects