Signage is displayed at the entrance of the new Tesla Inc. showroom in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg)

Tesla Manager Says Confidentiality Is Required of All Employees

(Bloomberg) -- People couldn’t be hired at Tesla Inc. without signing an agreement restricting them from spreading proprietary information, according to the company’s senior director of human resources for production and supply chain.

Josh Hedges, the Tesla manager, testified in a National Labor Relations Board trial Wednesday, the first witness called by the electric-car maker as it begins its defense against allegations lodged by a regional director of the labor board. The director accused the company of violations of federal labor law including maintaining a strict confidentiality policy that infringes on workers’ rights as well as retaliating against pro-union employees.

Hedges testified that Tesla has had confidentiality policies since before he joined in 2015, and that in 2016, following concerns about leaks, the company decided to also have its existing employees sign an acknowledgment that they would continue to abide by confidentiality rules.

“We were asked to make sure that everyone remembered” the confidentiality policy, he said. Managers were told to “let people know why we were having them sign the acknowledgment -- and that it was because of leaks.”

Tesla has said that all of the labor board’s allegations are false. On Tuesday, Tesla’s attorney, Mark Ross, said that he could seek to question the labor board’s regional director regarding her handling of allegations against the company.

Stephan Graminger, Tesla’s former director of body manufacturing, testified Wednesday that he made the decision to terminate the employee who the labor board alleged was illegally fired, and that the employee’s union activity played no role in the decision.

Hedges revealed at the start of his Wednesday testimony that he has recently tendered his resignation to the company, effective Oct. 5. He currently reports to Vice President of People and Places Kevin Kassekert.

Hedges testified that while working at Palo Alto, California-based Tesla he visited a Facebook page for the UAW’s organizing campaign more than 10 times.

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