VW Plays Sherlock

Nov 13, 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

Potential whistleblowers have until the end of November to come forward with any information that might help with the investigation into the diesel and CO2 emissions scandal.

Deadline

VW has been making very slow progress in uncovering any information on individuals or groups who had knowledge of the rigging of diesel emissions tests two months after the scandal became public, and last week also admitted to cheating on CO2 emissions certifications.

In accordance with this whistleblower program, approved by VW’s top management, workers who get in touch with investigators no later than November 30 will be granted a safeguard from dismissals or any damage claims, according to a letter from VW brand chief Herbert Diess to staff on Nov 12.

His comments confirmed an earlier report by Sueddeutsche Zeitung jointly with German broadcasters NDR and WDR:

– “We are counting on your cooperation and knowledge as our company’s employees to get to the bottom of the diesel and CO2 issue,” Diess was quoted as saying in the document. “In this process, every single day counts.”

VW has also stated that it hired advisory firm Deloitte and US law firm Jones Day. The firms are investigating under what circumstances the company installed software into diesel cars that changed engine settings to reduce emissions whenever the vehicle was put through tests.

Scapegoats Offer

This whistleblower program is designed to encourage lower-ranking employees to speak out on the issue, without fear of losing their job.

As Automotive News Europe reports:

– “VW is promising staff they will keep their jobs and will be exempt from damage claims if they shed light on the scandal, but board members and levels of management directly below the board are excluded from the scheme.”

It seems VW management can’t crack this case on their own, they’ve started digging around inside. If the intended outcome of this program is successful, we’ll be seeing a lot more names under the spotlight.

A Second Perspective on the Program

Peter Henning – law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit

Henning said it is unusual to tell employees that they could avoid dismissal if they come forward, even if they were involved in the scandal. But the letter from Diess says VW cannot guarantee that employees will avoid prosecution if they admit involvement.

– “They are trying to ferret out information from the mid-level employees who may know what happened but are fearful of being made a scapegoat,” Mr Henning said.

So in the meantime, be conscious about driving your ‘dirty’ VW and enjoy the accelerated rate of emissions produced.

Let us know your thoughts on Volkswagen’s whistleblower program by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

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