By on March 13, 2016

Data, Image: rh2ox/Flickr

A former employee, who was fired after news of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal broke, is claiming in a lawsuit that he was let go from the automaker after noticing data related to the scandal was being deleted, several German language outlets are reporting (via Automotive News).

The lawsuit, filed by a former employee of Volkswagen Group of America, is the first possible evidence made public so far of a good, old fashioned cover up on this side of the Atlantic.

The employee, who worked at VWGoA’s data center in Michigan, began flagging data deletions made by a co-worker that started on September 18, 2015, the same day the scandal broke, the suit claims. According to reports, the deletions happened after a U.S. Department of Justice order to stop all “routine” data deletions at VWGoA.

The plaintiff is seeking damages in the suit. He’s protected from retaliation under Michigan’s whistleblower laws.

[Image: r2hox/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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34 Comments on “Former Volkswagen Employee Claims Unlawful Firing Over Data Deletions...”


  • avatar
    05lgt

    Do federal whistle blower laws provide a % of fines to the whistleblower?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Golly jeepers no. Even the retaliation protection is worthless – this guy has already been fired. Whistle blowers get screwed unless they’re rich, otherwise they’re paying $140/hour or whatever the going rate is, while the company uses its in-house staff legal department. Guess who goes broke first?

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Actually, if this guy’s testimony or info prove critical to proving VW culpability and malice, on the basis of the false claims act, he could be rewarded with between 10 and 30% of all civil fines gathered from VW by the USA.

        If he has a good case, big law firms will represent him on a contingent basis for free in exchange for 1/3 of the reward.

        Given the magnitude of the potential fines, any anti-retaliation award under would pale in comparison to the FCA reward.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Actually, if this guy’s testimony or info prove critical to proving VW culpability and malice, on the basis of the false claims act, he could be rewarded with between 10 and 30% of all civil fines gathered from VW by the USA.

        If he has a good case, big law firms will represent him on a contingent basis for free in exchange for 1/3 of the reward.

        Given the magnitude of the potential fines, any anti-retaliation award, under FCA or other federal or state laws, would pale in comparison to the FCA reward.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The case should be easy enough to prove, especially if he put his concerns in electronic writing at the time.

  • avatar

    This scandal, in it’s entirety, is just about the worst thing ever done by a car company. If VAG doesn’t survive, they certainly deserve it.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Well, I don’t know that the Corvair and the Yugo weren’t worse. Ignition switches and exploding airbags are pretty bad, too.

      Toyota floormats causing unintended acceleration. Toyota V-6 engine sludge. Toyota throttle cables sticking open. The list is large.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s no way to relate the issues you suggest to the debacle at VAG. VAG purposefully defeated regulations. Intent is everything. They will lose any lawsuits brought without doubt. They have financially harmed the buyers and the dealers. The damages are demonstrable.

        Some things happen in real life use that can’t be anticipated. You’d have a difficult if not impossible task if you set out to prove GM purposefully designed an unsafe vehicle.

        The VAG thing… No problem whatsoever proving their intent.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          Cheating on emissions testing is bad, I agree. But it is hardly the worst thing a carmaker has ever done.

          My examples pointed out how slow corporate is to react to life-threatening situations. Even with real-world evidence.

          In the case of sludgey engines and other things like that, it is mainly a blow to the pocketbook.

          It all begins to make since when you consider that the car dealers are the true customer of the car companies. Not the end consumer, the general public.

      • 0 avatar
        ffighter69

        If you believe the Toyota floor mat and throttle sticking caused unintended acceleration I have a couple of bridges that I think you would like that would like to unload real cheap in New York.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        No, some of your examples are not the same. Toyota didn’t intend to make engines that sludged up.

        A better example would be the Ford Explorer tire issue, where they knew they had a rollover problem and purposely underinflated the Firestone tires to deal with it. Clear intent there.

        • 0 avatar
          John

          Bingo. Also, making a careless mistake that harms people = damages = the cost of what it takes to make the people whole. Deliberately doing something that harms people = damages + punitive damages. Punitive damages are NOT covered by insurance, and are NOT tax deductible.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        This “But… But… GM!” Bulls**t is getting old.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDoctorIsOut

      Bigger than the Ford Pinto lawsuit over the paper trail left behind by their cost/benefit study over how it would be cheaper to omit $11 of fuel system protection vs. the insurance payouts for any fatalities which in fact did occur? Do I even need to say, “Are you kidding me”?

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, this just keeps getting sadder by the day. Put a fork in VW, they’re done in the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      As appalling as VW’s behavior has been, I don’t believe this will lead to them exiting the US market. Their dealer network is too large and too many of them are still on the road.

      Yet, in the same breadth, I can say I will never own another. I have had 3: 78′ Rabbit, 98 TDI Jetta, 05 TDI Jetta. 78 was well used, the other two were new.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        They might not pull out of the US, but if they stay I can see Chattanooga possibly closing and a lot of current VW dealers turning into Hyundai or Kia dealers (or another less deceitful brand of your choosing).

        If they do stay and try to tough it out, they’re in for a difficult time ahead for many years. I’ve been driving VWs since 1998 exclusively and have no desire for a new one even though I like the cars overall.

  • avatar
    NickS

    When was this lawsuit filed? Horn left last week.

    Time for more popcorn.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Jesus, corporate 101 is to pay this guy a severance package that he couldn’t refuse to get him to leave the company. Straight termination is just begging for a suit and bad PR.

    Should’ve gave him 2 years salary and be done with it.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      Yes, but consider this – for five months now, each time; VW has asessed the situation, deliberated, and then taken the stupidest possible action. Why expect them to deviate from that business plan? After all, it’s working so well…

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      You’d expect them to be smarter than that, right?

      The merits of the case are not known yet, but if his lawyer is on contingency and there is more to the bit about his manager it will be very serious. These cases settle almost always. If this guy has some smoking gun evidence, the settlement costs will be minor compared to the fallout. It will be prison time, and there won’t be any conjugal visits.

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    Wonder when VW will be leaving the U.S. to avoid the inbound litigation?

  • avatar

    The U.S. Justice Dept. better start sending invitations to key VW officials in Germany, and organize followup hearings. Remember that it took German prosecutors 3 weeks before they decided to raid VW offices to look for evidence. Since Dieselgate constitutes no less than an attempt to mislead authorities and fraud to boost sales and shareholder value, the U.S. should be firm about this. Should go as far as ask for extradition of managers such as Winterkorn.

    • 0 avatar
      RetroGrouch

      “Since Dieselgate constitutes no less than an attempt to mislead authorities and fraud to boost sales and shareholder value, the U.S. should be firm about this.”

      You get a gold star today. This is the most insightful comment I have read about VW on this matter in a long time.

      In reality, this country does not give a goat crap about the environment or fraud by large corporations in general. What we do care about is defrauding investors. I wonder if some country will go after VW for not informing their investors about the potential liability of poor emissions.

      • 0 avatar

        In the Netherlands a class action is started on behalf of shareholders from other countries as well. The irony is that VW’s defense will be that EU emission testing procedures gave it a pass. Americans have a better case against VW, because in the U.S. VW flunked.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Well, Retro, this is close. An institutional German investor is suing VW as of today for $3.7 billion.

        http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0WG2B1

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          for the link wmba — Calpers is one of the “suitors” … oh, how many ways can california have its way with VW …

          Some more details on the suit:
          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-14/volkswagen-u-s-unit-destroyed-evidence-ex-worker-suit-says

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    CAN SOMEONE AT TTAC TURN OFF THE POP UP WINDOW REQUIRING, NO DEMANDING, THAT WE LIKE TTAC’S PAGE ON FACEBOOK? IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER A MONTH NOW AND IT’S VERY ANNOYING.

    I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT MY DESIRE TO “LIKE” TTAC FB IS DIRECTLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE TO CLICK THE UNTRUTHFUL “LIKED ALREADY” RESPONSE.

    IN SHORT, IT’S A REALLY STUPID MOVE, TTAC.

  • avatar
    its me Dave

    That’s not the half of it. TTAC starts more scripts and trackers in your browser than a Russian pron site. This site’s unreadable without an adblocker or notracker.

  • avatar

    Interesting catch 22 situation. If the suitors have a chance of getting compensated, shares will go down even further, even more contributing to the company’s long term losses.


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