Tesla is suing an alleged saboteur who it says stole intellectual property and leaked phony information to the media in an effort to harm the company.
CEO Elon Musk sent a letter to staff on Sunday to report that a disgruntled employee had "conducted quite extensive and damoging sabotage" to the company and ask everyone to be vigilant and to report anything suspicious.
A federal lawsuit filed in Nevada accuses Martin Tripp, who was an employee at the company’s ‘Gigafactory’ near Reno, of hacking the automaker’s Manufacturing Operating System. It says he transferred data and photographs to outside parties and installed software onto the computers of three other employees that would continue exporting information if he left the company while implicating his co-workers.
The lawsuit says Tripp also falsely told media outlets that the company was installing damaged battery packs into some of its Model 3 sedans and generating an unusually large amount of scrap material during production. The latter item was first reported by Business Insider, which was not named in the lawsuit.
Tesla says Tripp started working for the company in October 2017 as a process technician and later complained that the role “wasn’t senior enough” for him. He was assigned to a different position on May 17, 2018, after his managers said he was having issues with his co-workers, according to the lawsuit.
The company claims it then discovered the alleged security breaches and interviewed Trapp on June 14 and again on June 15, when it says that he admitted to the hack.
Tesla is asking the court for compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages. Tripp has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
Speaking of the sabatoge, Musk tweeted on Wednesday: "There is more, but the actions of a few bad apples will not stop Tesla from reaching its goals. With 40,000 people, the worst 1 in 1000 will have issues. That’s still ~40 people."