Latest Tesla Flap Shows The Huge Risks Facing Potential Whistleblowers


FILE–In this July 26, 2016, file photo, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., left, discusses the company’s new Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev. Former Tesla employee Martin Tripp has responded to a Tesla lawsuit by saying he was trying to blow the whistle on alleged waste at the Gigafactory. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file)

is… stranger than you typically see. To break it down:

On June 20 Tesla filed a lawsuit lobbing allegations of hacking and sabotage at former employee Martin Tripp.

Then Tripp and Tesla CEO Elon Musk got into a back-and-forth in the YouTube comments section over email.

Then Tripp allegedly threatened to shoot up Tesla (or maybe he just got swatted).

Tripp, for his part, says that he’s not a saboteur. He says he’s a whistleblower.

So aside from the general life lessons to be learned from all this recent Tesla weirdness–“Don’t send insulting emails to potential whistleblowers if you are a billionaire tech genius CEO” belongs up there with “Never get involved in a land war in Asia“–there’s also an important reminder about American workplace law, too.

Whistleblowers in America are really unprotected. Like really, really unprotected.

Don’t believe it?

Assume for the moment that everything Martin Tripp is saying is true. Assume he’s something close to the platonic ideal of the whistleblower.

In other words, assume that Tesla really has been hiding negative manufacturing outcomes from investors (which they deny). Assume that Tripp dutifully reported his allegations up the chain of command but was rebuffed. Assume that Tripp then went to the press–in this case Business Insider–because he felt there were no other options to protect the public. Assume he simultaneously reported his concerns to a government regulator.

Even if that’s all true (and at this point we don’t know), Tesla would still have the power to ruin Tripp’s life–and to do…

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Peter Bordes

Exec Chairman & Founder at oneQube
Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
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