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Sterling Employment Law

Former Volkswagen employee files wrongful termination suit

When Michigan employees see wrongdoing at their places of work, they should report it. Part of what compels these workers to do the right thing is protection for retaliation if they are deemed a whistleblower. If the employer chooses to punish the employee or outright dismisses him or her, this can be the foundation for a legal filing for a violation of employee rights.

A man who lost his job after trying to prevent his employer from destroying evidence has filed a lawsuit. The man worked for Volkswagen AG and protested the company's attempts to delete evidence that is important to the investigation into the ongoing allegations that the car company was tampering with emissions systems on its vehicles. The man was working in a Michigan data center for the company. He asserts that VW continued its process of deleting information even after there was an order to cease, which was issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in mid-September.

The company says that the deletions were not related to the case, but were because of a lack of storage space. The man also says that the company's information technology division did not allow the legal firm that the company's board had brought in to conduct an investigation, to do so with full access. The company retorts that the man's dismissal was unrelated to the emissions controversy. The man's case falls under the whistleblower statute.

Whistleblowers and protections provided to them is a relatively new legal area. While the law says that those who report wrongdoing should be protected, the reality is that many people who see issues occurring are afraid to report them for fear of losing their jobs. This case is indicative of why. Those who believe they have been subjected to wrongful termination because of being a whistleblower might not even know that they are protected under the law and can file a lawsuit. Contacting an attorney experienced in whistleblower cases can provide information and assistance in filing a case.

Source: Fortune, "Whistleblower Sues VW After Being Fired Over Data Deletion Row," Geoffrey Smith, March 14, 2016

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