Uber has threatened to fire one of their senior engineers unless he gives back documents from his previous employer, Waymo.
“Anthony Levandowski previously worked at Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, to help develop autonomous vehicle tech. But he subsequently left to create his own self-driving-truck startup, Otto, which Uber acquired for $680 million,” reported Business Insider on Friday. “Alphabet and Waymo have accused Uber and Otto of stealing Waymo’s trade secrets and intellectual property, and of infringing on patents related to lidar, a technology that autonomous vehicles use to ‘see.’ Uber denies the allegations.”
“Waymo is accusing Levandowski of downloading more than 14,000 files while working for the company in 2015 and taking them with him. But Levandowski is refusing to let the devices that might contain the files be searched, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” they continued, adding that “Uber has already demoted Levandowski and removed him from any work involving lidar systems at Uber.”
Uber is now threatening to fire Levandowski unless he returns the documents to Waymo.
“We understand that this letter requires you to turn over information wherever located, including but not limited to, your personal devices, and to waive any Fifth Amendment protection you may have,” said Uber’s general counsel, Salle Yoo, in a letter to Levandowski. “While we have respected your personal liberties, it is our view that the Court’s Order requires us to make these demands of you.”
“If you do not agree to comply with all of the requirements set forth herein, or if you fail to comply in a material manner, then Uber will take adverse employment action against you, which may include termination of your employment and such termination would be for Cause,” she continued.
Despite threats from the courts and both companies, Levandowski is sticking to his defense, and refuses to give up any documents, calling the request “unconstitutional.”
You can read the full letter sent to Levandowski from Yoo, as well as Levandowski’s reply at Business Insider.