Former Tesla employee Adam Williams filed a lawsuit against the automotive company on Jan. 26 under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) claiming that the company knowingly sold defective vehicles. The lawsuit, which is being issued through New Jersey Superior Court as reported by Sean O’Kane from The Verge, claims that Williams was demoted and eventually fired after reporting the practice to his superiors.
Williams states that he reported the questionable behavior in late 2016 and early 2017 to his supervisor, as well as Tesla’s East Coast Regional Manager, Lenny Peake, and a company vice president, Jerome Guillen.
In his claim, Williams states that the company failed “to disclose to consumers high-dollar, pre-delivery damage repairs” and instead labeled these cars as “used” or “demo/loaner” vehicles. The lawsuit then goes on to say that soon after his report, Williams was demoted to service manager of Springfield New Jersey’s Tesla store, demoted once again to a “mobile manager” position, and eventually fired in Sept. 2017.
Williams argues that his termination was a retaliatory act by Tesla and thus qualifies him for protection under CEPA’s “Whistleblower Act.” The act is supposed to prevent employers from retaliating against employees who report, object to, or otherwise refuse to participate in activities that they consider illegal.
In his claim, Williams states that the company failed “to disclose to consumers high-dollar, pre-delivery damage repairs” and instead labeled these cars as “used” or “demo/loaner” vehicles.
“There’s no merit to this lawsuit,” stated a Tesla representative. “Mr. Williams’ description of how Tesla sells used or loaner vehicles is totally false and not how we do things at Tesla.”
“It’s also at odds with the fact that we rank highest in customer satisfaction of any car brand…Mr. Williams was terminated at Tesla for performance reasons, not for any other reason.”
The plaintiff’s (Williams) lawyer could not be reached at the time.
While it isn’t clear whether anything will come from Williams’ lawsuit, it’s worth noting that Tesla has dealt with accusations of lemon law issues before, settling with the owner of a Model X in 2016.
Documentation of Tesla v. Williams can be seen here.