A former Tesla manager has filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint against Tesla Inc. claiming the California automaker fired him after he reported to his superiors allegedly shady sales practices that involved the company misclassifying defective cars and selling them to customers.
Adam Williams, who formerly worked as a regional sales manager for Tesla in New Jersey, filed the whistleblower complaint under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), commonly referred to as the state’s “whistleblower law.” He filed the suit in New Jersey Superior Court.
According to The Verge, Tesla adamantly denies Mr. Williams’ allegations that it routinely failed “to disclose to consumers high-dollar, pre-delivery damage repairs” before Tesla customers took ownership of the vehicles.
Mr. Williams claims that Tesla sold the “lemons” as “used” vehicles or labeled them “demo/loaner” vehicles. A Tesla employee since 2011, Mr. Williams says in court documents that he reported the alleged wrongdoing to his supervisor, Tesla’s East Coast Regional Manager, and a company vice president in 2016 and early 2017.
It wasn’t long after blowing the whistle on the alleged dubious practices that Mr. Williams was demoted to service manager of the Springfield, New Jersey Tesla store, The Verge reported. He was demoted again later in the year to a lower “mobile manager” position before Tesla fired him in September of last year.
Mr. Williams maintains that because he was fired in retaliation for reporting illegal activity, he is covered by CEPA’s whistleblower protections, which are meant to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who stand up to wrongdoing.
Tesla has faced lemon law accusations in the past. According to Fortune, the owner of three Tesla vehicles sued the automaker in May 2016, “citing a variety of problems affecting the doors and software in his Model X, and demanding the company issue a refund under California’s ‘Lemon Laws.’”