The ride-hailing company has threatened to fire Anthony Levandowski who is accused by Alphabet’s self-driving subsidiary Waymo of stealing trade secrets.
Apparently, Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo has told Levandowski, a former Waymo executive, that he must comply with the order to return Waymo documents or face possible contract termination, Levandowski’s lawyers said in a court filing.
“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,” Yoo wrote in the letter.
Levandowski was a key cog in Uber’s autonomous vehicle program until demotion last month. Waymo claims he downloaded thousands of confidential files pertaining self-driving tech before he left the company in order to form his own self-driving startup, Otto, that was later acquired by Uber for $680 million.
Meanwhile, a federal judge ordered Uber Technologies to return all the stolen confidential files to Waymo. The ruling said Waymo has “shown compelling evidence” that its former star engineer, Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files” before leaving Alphabet’s self-driving car unit.
Levandowski, who isn’t a defendant in Waymo’s lawsuit, argued in a court filing the court order forces him to choose between his Constitutional rights against self-incrimination or his job. His lawyer, Miles Ehrlich, believes the order should be amended.
The order “leaves little room for interpretation,” Ehrlich wrote.
“Anything short of firing Mr. Levandowski to get him to waive his Fifth Amendment rights and attorney-client privileges would put Uber at risk of contempt since it would fail to measure up to the Court’s command that Uber exercise every lawful power it has over Mr. Levandowski,” he wrote in the filing.
Earlier, Uber said it would appeal a judge’s order rejecting its attempt to arbitrate Waymo’s trade secret claims, according to a court filing. Judge Alsup ruled last week that Waymo’s lawsuit should not be heard in a private forum. Instead, it should continue to be litigated in San Francisco federal court.
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