Former Employee Files Suit Against Tesla After Whistleblower Complaint

(CN) – Following a whistleblower complaint filed last year, a former Tesla employee filed a federal lawsuit in Nevada Friday against the company and CEO Elon Musk, claiming he was wrongfully let go from his job after filing the complaint.

Karl Hansen alleges the was wrongfully fired from his job as an investigator in Tesla’s Gigafactory after filing a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year.

Hansen said company officials spied on employees, hid the theft of $37 million in raw materials and failed to disclose drug trafficking that occurred at the factory.

In a statement made in August of last year, a Tesla spokesperson said it investigated Hansen’s allegations.

“Some of his claims are outright false,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Others could not be corroborated.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing on Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

Under SEC rules, a whistleblower could receive up to 30% of fines the commission collects if judgment is made against a company.

Hansen alleges the company, under Musk’s direction, installed equipment at the Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada that allowed surveillance of employees’ personal cellphones.

Additionally, Hansen claims the electric car maker failed to reveal it had received a warning from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about an employee connected to a Mexican cartel allegedly selling cocaine at the site.

Hansen added new allegations in Friday’s lawsuit, claiming that senior Tesla managers awarded improper contracts that cost the company more money than they should.

“For example, one contract in particular cost Tesla approximately $900,000 for a job that would normally cost $65,000 to $75,000 to complete,” the lawsuit states.

After reporting his findings to management, the complaint claims Hansen was fired for his investigations, while company officials said his position was being eliminated as part of a restructuring plan.

“Due to the reporting of the criminal activities taking place at Tesla, and because of their significance to shareholders, Hansen was informed on June 19, 2018, that he was being terminated,” the lawsuit states.

Hansen then began work as an investigator at the site through third-party contractor U.S. Security Associates, when he claims company officials, including Musk, demanded that the contractor remove him from the job.

“Musk noticed that Hansen was on duty,” the lawsuit states. “Musk became infuriated and within ten minutes had USSA remove Hansen from his post. Hansen was told by USSA security supervisors they had been commanded to ‘do something’ with Hansen and ‘I don’t give a fuck if you take him up into the hills and hide him’ from Musk.”

Hansen is suing for intentional interference with contractual relations, breach of employment contract and whistleblower retaliation.

He is represented by Daniel Watkins of Las Vegas-based Watkins & Letofsky.

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