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Tesla sues ex-employee alleging data theft, leaks to media

25 June 2018, 01:21 | Vera Richards

SALWAN GEORGES WASHINGTON POST The sabotage comes as Tesla ramps up Model 3 production

The sabotage comes as Tesla ramps up Model 3 production

CEO Elon Musk first signaled there was a problem in an e-mail sent to Tesla employees on Sunday night warning that there had been "extensive and damaging sabotage" committed by an employee who was not initially identified.

The company plans to close between 13 and 14 facilities, shutting its doors across nine states including California and NY.

The closures come as a part of Tesla's decision last week to cut 9 percent of its workforce.

Among the details Mr Tripp says he shared as a whistleblower - to a reporter at Business Insider - is an allegation that punctured batteries had made their way into Tesla's cars. Before the merger, Musk had served as chairman of SolarCity's board of directors.

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According to an internal email, the affected states include California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona and Delaware. It would be interesting to know who Tripp was sharing his information with outside the company. An internal email, also obtained by Reuters, only mentions 13.

Last week, Tesla announced it would lay off 9 percent of its workforce in an effort to keep its doors open as it tries to ramp up production of its critical Model 3 electric auto. The specifics now call for over a dozen solar facilities to be closed, leaving about 60 nationwide still operating.

Last week, the company ended its retail partnership with Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and will no longer sell SolarCity products there.

Musk also said the new factory in a tent is preferable to the regular factory because it has a great view of the mountains.

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The total number of layoffs at Tesla's solar and battery business remain unclear.

But financial analysts are questioning Musk's plans for the solar business. The Tesla CEO is thinking about offering a factory tour where owners can help build part of the vehicle.

According to Tesla's lawyers, Tripp, who joined the company in October 2017 before being fired this week, had complained that his technician job was "not a sufficiently senior role for him".

In filing this lawsuit, Tesla demanded a trial by jury. The lawsuit alleged Tesla's board of directors breached its duties to shareholders by approving the merger. Tesla declined to comment on the lawsuit to CNBC and didn't immediately respond to Inverse's request for comment. He told the Post that "Elon was lying to investors about many cars they were making". The company also said Tripp's claims can be easily disproved.

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Tripp says he is being made a "scapegoat" for telling the truth. But back then, Solar City was a leading player in the solar industry. Tesla was selling solar through 800 Home Depots, but now it will sell SolarCity products through 90 of its 109 US retail stores.

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