Personnel at Volkswagen’s U.S. unit in Michigan destroyed evidence after the U.S. government announced last year that the company had installed illegal devices on hundreds of thousands of vehicles to cheat emissions tests. At least that’s what a former employee has alleged in a lawsuit. Daniel Donovan, who worked as a technical project manager in Auburn Hills, Mich., claims he was fired in December after telling superiors, including the company’s in-house lawyers, that data was being deleted.
Donovan, who had worked for VW since 2008, filed suit in state court last month, alleging wrongful termination and violation of Michigan’s whistleblower law. The complaint alleges that the deletion of data conflicted with an order Donovan had received to preserve such information after the Sept. 18 announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that VW had violated federal law by rigging vehicles sold in the United States.
As has been widely reported, Volkswagen admitted installing cheating software in 11 million vehicles worldwide, including 482,000 sold in the U.S. Later, the company disclosed it had installed questionable emissions software in about 85,000 VW, Audi and Porsche cars with 3.0-liter diesel engines in the U.S.
Donovan alleges that his immediate supervisor, Robert Arturi, told him on Sept. 18 the company had to “stop deleting data effective immediately pursuant to a Department of Justice hold,” connected to the U.S. investigation. Donovan says that when he relayed that message to the information technology manager, he was brushed off. He says the data deletion continued for three more days, in violation of the order, and additional backup disks were destroyed afterward.
Donovan claimed in the lawsuit that an independent investigation by an accounting firm was thwarted, as evidence wasn’t provided. Michigan law permits legal action if an employee is fired in retaliation for refusing to break the law. The complaint also cites a state law protecting workers reporting or about to report a legal violation.
Source: Bloomberg News
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