VW’s Rebranding Effort Allegedly Included Policy to Purge Older Workers

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In response to a 2015 diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen AG instituted a rebranding strategy. According to a 53-year old worker, Jonathan Manlove, the rebranding strategy allegedly included a policy to remove older employees from the company. The worker claiming age discrimination filed a collective action in Tennessee federal court.

Manlove claimed in the complaint that VW’s attempt to create a distraction from the diesel emissions scandal fallout or what has become known as the Dieselgate scandal with two different rebranding labor campaigns included clear discrimination violations. Particularly, the company planned to get rid of management positions that were filled by “older” employees. The plaintiff alleged that the new policy was in clear violation of U.S. age discrimination laws.

The rebranding strategies were implemented in 2016 with the twin policies: TRANSFORM 2025+ and Pact for the Future. They were implemented globally. According to American law, VW’s policy of purging older employees from their management ranks is illegal age discrimination.

The plaintiff stated in the complaint that VW’s own press releases on their new strategies made clear their intentions to eliminate older employees. The company openly stated that they would be using early retirements and “natural fluctuations” in order to reach their rebranding strategy goals to become “slimmer, leaner and younger.” 

Manlove filed suit on behalf of VW employees in the United States of America over the age of 50. Manlove worked as a VW assistant manager in logistics before he was demoted in June 2017. The demotion came only days after the VW announcement that the company would be creating a younger workforce at management levels.

VW advised Manlove he had one hear to find and obtain another assistant manager position at the company before the move would become a permanent demotion. Yet somehow Manlove’s positive performance reviews did nothing to keep him from being assigned to remain in the demoted position by VW Human Resources as well as being advised he was not allowed to apply for openings at the company.

According to the complaint, many others were affected. Since the announcement of the policy change, six employees under the age of 30 were promoted to assistant manager positions at the logistics department of VW at the Chattanooga, Tennessee manufacturing facility where Manlove was employed. At the same time, only two over 50 employees retained their assistant manager positions.

If you are experiencing age discrimination in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Alleged Age Discrimination at Hewlett-Packard Results in Lawsuit

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Another age discrimination complaint has been lobbed at Hewlett-Packard, tech giant. The most recently filed age discrimination lawsuit was filed by Bryant Fonseca, 55, a San Diego resident. Fonseca sued in San Diego Superior Court, seeking class-action status. A Hewlett-Packard spokeswoman responded by email stating that the Palo-Alto based company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

Bryant Fonseca was a Hewlett-Packard employee as a research and development buyer for close to 40 years. He claims that the tech giant terminated his employment at the Rancho Bernardo location last May as part of their 2012 plan to reduce their workforce that targeted older employees.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, Fonseca completed the required step in the process that is often skated over, filing a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. He was granted the right to sue. Yet the interesting part of this step in the legal process is that the department has received more than 32 complaints citing age discrimination at Hewlett-Packard since July 2012. Of the 32 complaints, seven were aimed directly at the Hewlett-Packard San Diego location. Also interesting, 24 of the 32 complaints were given permission to sue the company. (Seven were dismissed or withdrawn and one was closed as it was not in the department’s jurisdiction).

In a review of age discrimination complaints to California state officials last year, USA Today found that of 12 leading tech companies since 2012, Hewlett-Packard claims the top spot. (Cisco Systems was second on the list with 11 complaints). Hewlett-Packard officially denies that their workforce reduction plan targets older workers for layoffs instead stating that their selection process is “neutral.”

If you are experiencing age discrimination in the work force or if you have been forced into a hostile work environment of any type, we want to help you. Contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Wrongful Termination and Age Discrimination Suit: Branch vs. Kaiser

March 30, 2015 - Belinda Branch worked as a medical assistant for Kaiser until her termination after 34 years on the job. In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Ms. Branch claims that she was fired in retaliation for reporting HIPAA violations on the job. Kaiser claims the woman is not trustworthy.

Ms. Branch started work at Kaiser’s Parkview Building in 1978. In regular performance reviews over the course of her 34 years on the job with Kaiser, she was given “exemplary” status. In 2014, after reporting another Kaiser employee for HIPAA violations, Branch became the focus of an investigation.

According to allegations made by Branch, the medical information that was unlawfully released contained private and sensitive medical data (some of which came from the patient’s “General Surgery File.”) Branch claims she was called in to three separate meetings. At the first two, she was confronted by what she described as hostile “compliance” officers intent on an interrogation. In the third meeting in June of 2014, Branch was terminated. She claims she was given an ultimatum: either resign and be allowed unemployment benefits or be fired without access to unemployment benefits.

Branch also claims that the HR department advised her that she should write her resignation letter immediately. She was required to use the exact wording they provided her with or she would be fired on the spot with no chance to access unemployment. Branch claims that she did as requested, but only under what she described as “coercion and manipulation.”

To date, no known action has been taken against the employees who Branch reported as violating HIPAA by sharing patient information without consent. Branch noted in her complaint that all three of the employees involved in the act are younger and that they were treated more favorably.

Branch claims she was fired in retaliation for her whistle-blowing as well as age discrimination.

Branch sued for age discrimination and wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is seeking general and special damages for loss of earnings (past and future), loss of benefits, damage to professional reputation, failure to advance, and loss of privileges on the job.

If you have questions regarding what constitutes wrongful termination or age discrimination according to California state labor law and federal employment law, contact the experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

Wrongful Termination and Discrimination Suit Filed against City by Former Trenton Park Ranger and Mack Supporter

Russell Wilson was a campaign supporter for former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack. He was given the position of park ranger in 2010 after Mack won the mayoral election. Two years later, in October of 2012, Wilson was charged with trespassing and theft. Claims were made that he stole over 10 gallons of city gas for use in his private vehicle. As a result of the charges made, he was placed on leave. The charges were soon dismissed, but Wilson was not reinstated as Trenton park ranger.

In April of 2013, Wilson’s attorney sent a letter to Mack stating that the he was eligible to return to work as a park ranger for the city.

In October Mr. Wilson filed suit claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his position as a park ranger. He seeks back pay and compensation because he wasn’t reinstated after criminal charges filed against him were dismissed. The letter was sent as a means of resolving the matter without additional legal action. 

Wilson believes that he was targeted because he was a supporter of Mack during the election. At the time of the allegations made against Wilson, Mack was under investigation. Mack, the Trenton mayor, was busted as part of a government sting and was eventually found guilty of bribery, fraud and extortion. (His brother was also found guilty of participating in a scheme to take bribes in exchange for helping obtain approvals for the development of a parking garage structure). Wilson also stated that he sees the charges as age discrimination due to the fact that the police officers identified the man they saw stealing city gas only as “old.” Wilson is 71 and believes that this descriptor leading to his being officially charged with the crime constitutes discrimination according to AARP.

If you have questions regarding age discrimination or wrongful termination or discrimination in general get in touch with an expert southern California employment law expert at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik to get the answers you need.