Tesla Fremont Factory alleges act of employee sabotage

According to a memo seen by Bloomberg News, Tesla is warning employees at its auto plant in Fremont, California, that an employee allegedly “maliciously sabotaged” part of the factory last month and was fired after an internal investigation.

According to an email sent Monday by Al Prescott, Tesla’s vice president of legal and acting general counsel, the electric-car manufacturer responded quickly to the incident, and operations at the facility were interrupted for only a short time.

“Two weeks ago, our IT and InfoSec teams determined than [sic] an employee had maliciously sabotaged a part of the Factory,” Prescott wrote in the email. “Their quick actions prevented further damage and production was running smoothly again a few hours later.”

In Fremont, more than 10,000 people work at Tesla’s factory where the company manufactures the S, 3, X and Y models. Whether Tesla handled the incident internally or reached out for assistance to law enforcement authorities was not immediately clear. A Fremont Police Department spokeswoman said Tuesday that they have not reacted to any incident that is consistent with these circumstances.

The employee, who was not identified, was allegedly attempting to “cover up his tracks,” blame a colleague and destroy a company computer, the email said. “Ultimately, after being shown the irrefutable evidence, the employee confessed. As a result, we terminated employment.”

Tesla is no stranger to sabotage issues and has a large internal-security unit. CEO Elon Musk reported last month that Tesla’s factory in Nevada was the victim of a Russian national’s thwarted cyberattack.

In 2018, in an internal email, Musk warned that someone was trying to sabotage the company. That someone, Musk would later say, was Martin Tripp, a former employee who has since been involved in company litigation. Not all of the allegations made by Tesla proved correct: the company alleged that Tripp was going to shoot up a factory in Nevada, but the police soon concluded that he was not a threat.

In 2016, in an email to former CFO Jason Wheeler, Tesla sued a former oil services executive for impersonating Musk. The carmaker said in the complaint that the email was part of an attempt by the oil industry to sabotage Tesla’s campaign for sustainable transport.

In the email Monday, the company said it does not tolerate unethical behavior and will take action against employees who participate in such actions.

“We place tremendous trust in our employees and value everyone’s contribution. However, whatever the personal motivations of the attacker were, these are crimes, violations of our code of conduct, and are unfair to other employees,” Prescott wrote. “We will take aggressive action to defend the company and our people.”

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