An employee of General Motors is suing the company saying he was demoted after threatening to report car safety defects.

Courtland Kelley was manager of an internal auditing program to test vehicle safety. He says he found problems with the fuel-line systems.

Kelley has said in court files he believes the problems could cause cars to spew out fuel and kill or injure drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

"His primary objective is to get defective vehicles off the road," said Kelley's lawyer, Rose Goff.

Kelley said he repeatedly notified higher management of the problem and was ignored. Gerry Holmes of GM says the company had yet to been notified officially of the lawsuit and had no comment.

Kelley reported his findings to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA is reviewing the case and will decide whether to proceed on an investigation.

Kelley was demoted Jan. 2, 2002. He contends his auditing program was discontinued because he threatened to go to federal authorities.

He is still employed at the GM Tech Centre but does not have a title or permanent assignment.

Kelley says he's been denied access to internal computer files ones he helped create.

Michigan adopted the Whistleblowers' Protection Act in 1980 to protect workers who report illegal or unethical conduct by employers.