Stephen Platt, a former employee at Tesla’s Fremont factory, claims the automaker fired him one day before his one-year work anniversary, preventing him from buying shares that were set to vest after 12 months of employment.
The suit says Platt had the right to purchase 625 of his 2,500 shares at $US27.37 apiece after working at the company for a full year. Platt began working at Tesla’s Fremont factory on Aug. 27, 2012, but Tesla fired him on Aug. 26, 2013.
Platt claims he still had the right to purchase the shares because he completed a full 12 months of work. He is seeking a class action lawsuit, claiming at least 200 other employees went through the same experience.
The suit, filed in California Superior Court in Oakland, asks for the right to purchase the shares based on the original terms of the contract and calls for compensatory damages. The suit was first reported by Bloomberg’s Dana Hull.
“Although technically he doesn’t have an entitlement to the stock, we are going to take a fresh look at the circumstances and do what is fair and just,” a Tesla representative wrote in a statement. “That’s always our guiding principle.”
Tesla’s stock has risen dramatically in the last six months and has been trading at all-time highs. The electric car maker’s market cap has rivaled General Motors and Ford.
Platt claims he would have been able to purchase 625 shares at a fraction of the current market price. These shares would now be worth more than $US240,000, according to the Bloomberg report.
Platt was hired as a Tool and Die Specialist at the Fremont factory. He was issued a “Final Written Warning” in December 2012, stating that he had performance issues, according to the suit.
Platt claims Tesla issued him the notice in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury.
Work conditions at Tesla’s Fremont factory have been in the spotlight as the company ramps up production for the Model 3. Some workers are calling for a union, asking for higher wages and claiming work conditions at the factory are unsafe.
Read Tesla’s statement in full:
“This is the first we’ve heard about this in the four years since this employee left the company. His claim seems questionable, particularly in light of both the timing and his documented track record of poor performance. Although technically he doesn’t have an entitlement to the stock, we are going to take a fresh look at the circumstances and do what is fair and just. That’s always our guiding principle.”
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