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May 19, 2017

Uber threatens to fire engineer involved in Waymo lawsuit

To date Levandowski has exercised his fifth amendment rights in order to avoid self incrimination but now Uber is demanding the engineer comply with the Judges order.

By Joe Clark

Uber has issued a warning to Anthony Levandowski, the Uber engineer who allegedly stole Waymo secrets, that refusing to hand over documents could see him fired.

In a letter written earlier in the week and made public on Thursday, Uber’s general counsel Salle Yoo stated that any refusal by Levandowski to comply with the investigation could be actionable.

Levandowksi is an engineer who worked on Uber’s autonomous vehicle project after his departure from Google’s self driving car company, Waymo. Levandowski is alleged to have stolen key technology from Waymo before his departure, which he then utilised at startup Otto before being acquired by Uber.

The letter from Yoo reads: “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.”Uber Engineer

To date Levandowski has exercised his fifth amendment rights in order to avoid self incrimination, but now the company is demanding the Uber engineer comply with Judge William Alsup’s order to return over 14,000 files that were allegedly taken from Waymo.

This week also saw Levandowski prohibited from working on Lidar technology in a preliminary injunction, as opposed to halting Uber from working on the technology altogether.

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Uber’s reasons for the threat are necessary in order for the ride sharing app to avoid being in contempt of court. Uber has complied with a decision that it must do everything in its power to have Levandowski cooperate and in order to have the engineer testify Uber have threatened his employment.

Levandowski’s lawyers have argued that such a move would be unconstitutional as government action is forcing him to abandon his fifth amendment rights enshrined in the US constitution.

 

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