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Tesla Accused Of Firing Employee To Cover Up Copper Theft

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A lawsuit filed by a former Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) employee claims he was fired because of his reports that copper was being stolen from the company's battery plant near Reno, Nevada.

What Happened: The former employee, Lynn Thompson, says he was fired because the company's CEO Elon Musk and others in management wanted to cover up the theft of copper wire at the factory site, Bloomberg reports. Mllions of dollars worth of copper were stolen from Tesla's factory, according to the lawsuit.

Thompson says he reported the copper thefts to Tesla's senior management, including Musk, starting in April 2018. He had noticed massive amounts of copper wire being lugged off from the site.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Nevada, in June 2018 Thompson was asked by Tesla management not to come to the factory after he reported the copper theft. He observed that people were loading copper wire onto a truck and moving it out from the factory.

"Since this time, Mr. Thompson has learned that Tesla and Musk pressured contractor ONQ GLOBAL to stop allowing him on the worksite and subsequently end his work at Tesla because of the outside reporting to law enforcement and internal reporting to senior management," according to the complaint.

The complaint asserts that Tesla feared the information would be leaked to the media and shareholders.

Capacity For Trouble: Copper is a key part of sustainable technologies, including electric vehicle batteries, and will be of increasing importance to the automotive industry as it electrifies more vehicles.

A recent report by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS) estimated the supply crunch the market is facing could help boost its price by more than 60% in four years.

Given the metal's demand and rising price in the market, thefts of electric wires are likely inevitable as copper can easily be sold to scrap yards for good money.

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