The accusations flying back and forth between Tesla Inc. and a former employee continued to escalate Thursday, as Tesla accused him of threatening workplace violence at a Tesla facility after he accused the company of dangerous practices and inaccurate public statements.
filed a lawsuit against employee Martin Tripp on Wednesday, after Elon Musk sent out a companywide email late Sunday night that said an employee had “conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage” by rewriting code and transferring internal information outside the company. Tripp, however, spoke with some news organizations Wednesday evening and defended himself by saying that he was trying to expose dangerous practices and misleading statements from Tesla.
“Elon was lying to investors about how many cars they were making. I wanted to leave the world better for my son. And I felt I was doing everything but that.”
Tripp specifically said Musk was lying to investors about the production rate of the Model 3, a crucial number for Tesla as it attempts to catch up to rates Musk promised it would reach last year. Specifically, Tripp told CNNMoney that when Musk said in Tesla’s last earnings call that Tesla had built more than 2,000 Model 3 cars in the previous week, the number was closer to 1,900.
Tripp — who worked at Tesla’s Reno, Nev., battery factory known as the Gigafactory — admitted to The Washington Post that he had supplied information to Business Insider for a story on high scrap rates and other issues at that facility. He said he did so because he believes Tesla put more than 1,000 punctured battery modules into cars
“The data I was collecting was so severe, I had to go to the media,” he told CNNMoney.
Tesla vigorously defended itself against all of Tripp’s accusations, and went even further when contacted by MarketWatch on Thursday morning, accusing the former employee of threatening workplace violence.
“Yesterday afternoon, we received a phone call from a friend of Mr. Tripp telling us that Mr. Tripp would be coming to the Gigafactory to ‘shoot the place up,’” a Tesla spokesman said in an email. “Police have been notified and actions are being taken to enhance security at the Gigafactory.”
Tripp denied making the comment in an interview with Ars Technica reporter Cyrus Farivar later Thursday, and was investigated by local authorities and found to be no threat.
The Washington Post also obtained an email message between Tripp and Musk, in which Musk called Tripp “a horrible human being,” and accused him of “framing” co-workers.
tl;dr: Tesla accused a former worker who says he’s a whistleblower of being a potential mass shooter, but authorities found no “credible threat.” Also, he and Elon went at it over email. This is not normal for a $60 billion company https://t.co/goR7tRpyE3 pic.twitter.com/Nn1lApT2PH
— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) June 21, 2018
When Farivar asked Musk about the lawsuit Wednesday evening on Twitter, Musk said it seemed inevitable there would be “bad apples” among 40,000 employees.
”The actions of a few bad apples will not stop Tesla from reaching its goals,” Musk said. “With 40,000 people, the worst 1 in 1000 will have issues. That’s still ~40 people.”
Tesla shares ended down 4% on Thursday, but have increased 11.6% so far this year as the S&P 500 index
has gained 2.9%.