Daniel Donovan, a former employee of Volkswagen, is suing the company for wrongful termination and violation of Michigan’s whistle-blower law.
Volkswagen recently admitted to programming over half a million cars in the US so that they would pass emissions requirements (set in place by the Environmental Protection Agency) but then turn off once the cars were on the road. These souped up cars emitted nearly 40% more nitrogen oxide (a toxic chemical found in cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, and smog) than typically allowed by the EPA. An increase of this chemical in the environment can contribute to respiratory problems.
After VW publicly admitted to cheating on emissions tests, employees at the VW Michigan Unit allegedly began destroying incriminating evidence of the installation of questionable emissions software.
Donovan, a technical project manager responsible for managing electronic information related to liability cases, alleges his supervisor Robert Arturi told him that the company had to “stop deleting data effective immediately pursuant to a Department of Justice hold.” When Donovan relayed this order to his information technology manager, he wasn’t taken seriously and the data deletion continued for a few days more. In addition, an independent investigation by an accounting firm was halted due to lack of evidence.
Though Donovan was fired shortly after he told supervisors and in-house lawyers the data continued to be deleted despite Arturi’s order, a VW spokeswoman, Jeannine Ginivan, insists that his termination had nothing to do with the emissions incident. Ginivan claims that Donovan’s wrongful termination claim is without merit.
Volkswagen, established in 1937, is the second largest auto manufacturer in the world and literally translates to “People’s Automobile” in German.
In Michigan, if an employee is let go by an employer because he or she refuses to participate in an illegal activity, legal action may be taken by the employee. A state law also protects workers who report a legal violation.
What do you think of these bombshell allegations?