Ex-VW employee's suit says automaker hid diesel scam

15th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A former Volkswagen employee has filed a whistleblower lawsuit accusing the German automaker's US unit of deleting data to cover up emissions cheating on its diesel cars.

Daniel Donovan said he was fired by Volkswagen Group of America after reporting within the company the intentional destruction of evidence potentially related to its use of illegal software to trick emissions tests.

Donovan, who was responsible for personal injury and product liability cases in the information technology department, said in his Michigan lawsuit last week that he was fired in December because the company believed he was about to report the destruction of evidence to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other authorities investigating the emissions cheating.

Donovan, who joined the company in 2008, said that his firing violated legal protections accorded whistleblowers who object to and refuse to participate in illegal activities.

He is seeking damages and interest; the amounts were not specified in the suit.

Contacted by AFP, Volkswagen's US unit denied his dismissed was for the reason claimed.

"The circumstances of Mr. Donovan's departure were unrelated to the diesel emissions issue. We believe his claim of wrongful termination is without merit," it said in a statement.

The "Dieselgate" scandal emerged in mid-September, when the EPA charged Volkswagen with violations of the Clean Air Act for using software in its diesel-engine cars that reduced emissions to a legal limit under testing but switched off afterward, allowing the cars to spew nitrogen oxides up to 40 times the standard.

The scandal has spread, with VW admitting 11 million of its vehicles worldwide have been installed with the so-called "defeat device" that circumvents standards tests.

Volkswagen is facing regulatory fines in a number of countries and a slew of lawsuits, notably in the United States and Germany, from angry car owners, as well as from shareholders seeking damages for the massive loss in the value of their shares since September.

© 2016 AFP

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