Stephen Platt, a former employee at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory, is suing the automaker, saying it wrongfully prevented him from buying shares that were set to vest after 12 months of employment.
A lawsuit filed in California Superior Court in Oakland claims Platt had the right to purchase 625 shares at $27.37 apiece after working at the company for a full year. According to the lawsuit, Platt began working at Tesla’s Fremont factory on August 27, 2012, but was fired on August 26, 2013.
Platt says 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 that at least 200 other employees went through the same experience.
The suit 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 said in a statement. “That’s always our guiding principle.”
Tesla’s stock has risen dramatically in the past six months and has been trading at all-time highs. The electric-car maker’s market cap has rivaled that of both General Motors and Ford.
Bloomberg noted that 625 Tesla shares were worth more than $240,000 as of Monday’s close.
Platt was hired as a tool and die specialist at the Fremont factory. He was issued a “Final Written Warning” in December 2012 saying 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.”