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Tesla Supervisor Says His Reports on Stolen Copper Got Him Fired

May 21, 2021, 9:40 PM

Tesla Motors Inc. got hit Friday with a whistleblower retaliation suit in Nevada by a former factory night supervisor who alleges he was fired for reporting the theft of millions of dollars worth of copper wire.

Plaintiff Lynn Thompson alleges he was fired one day after calling the Storey County Sheriff’s Department to report individuals at his job site loading copper onto a truck, which resulted in their arrest.

Thompson says he worked as an electrical superintendent at the Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev., under a contract with Tesla and ONQ Global when the thefts occurred.

Thompson was terminated because Tesla “wanted to prevent the information from being disclosed to the media and shareholders,” he says in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

Thompson says he made previous reports about similar thefts and senior management told him “unless he catches people actually stealing copper wire red-handed, that he would be terminated for inquiring further.”

The former supervisor also says Tesla CEO Elon Musk and others at the highest levels of the company held at least one meeting to discuss the thefts.

Thompson’s duties at the factory included investigating and reporting suspicious criminal and other activity, the complaint alleges.

Cause of Action: The Sarbanes Oxley Act.

Relief: Damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Watkins & Lotofsky LLP represents Thompson.

The case is Thompson v. Tesla Motors Inc., D. Nev., No. 21-cv-00976, 5/21/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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