Tesla is suing a former employee in a federal court in Nevada, alleging he stole confidential data and hacked the company's manufacturing operating system because he was dismayed about being demoted. The lawsuit accuses Martin Tripp, a former process technician at Tesla's Gigafactory in Nevada, of violating federal and state trade-secret laws, breaching his employment contract and breaking other laws, seeking financial damages to be determined at trial.

Elon Musk first divulged the alleged sabotage in an email to staff Monday, saying the unnamed employee made code changes to Tesla's manufacturing operating system and sent sensitive data to unnamed third parties. Musk said his "stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive."

"Tesla has only begun to understand the full scope of Tripp's illegal activity, but he has thus far admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla's manufacturing operating system ("MOS") and to transferring several gigabytes of Tesla data to outside entities," the lawsuit says. "This includes dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla's manufacturing systems."

It also accuses Tripp of writing computer code to periodically export data from a Tesla network to third parties. "His hacking software was operating on three separate computer systems of other individuals at Tesla so that the data would be exported even after he left the company and so that those individuals would be falsely implicated as guilty parties," the complaint reads.

The lawsuit says Tripp joined Tesla in October 2017 but was reassigned to a new role last month after having problems with job performance and being disruptive and combative with fellow employees. Tesla said it interviewed Tripp over two days this month, and he admitted to writing the hacking software and to transferring proprietary data to third parties.

The lawsuit claims he also made misleading claims based on the documents he stole about Model 3 manufacturing processes. Some of that information appears to have been the basis of a recent Business Insider report that alleged the company had generated $150 million in scrap materials so far this year and had repaired and reused battery cells damaged during the manufacturing process.

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