Volkswagen AG Age Discrimination Collective Action

Case name: Manlove, et al. v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, et al.

Case type: Age Discrimination

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee]

Docket: [Case no. 1:18-cv-145]

Case Summary

In June 2018, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class and collective action under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act against Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (“Volkswagen AG”) and two wholly owned subsidiaries, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., and Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, alleging the German automaker engaged in a company-wide policy of age discrimination against employees 50 years and older.

The Complaint alleged that, in an effort to shed its old diesel image and rebound from a 2015 scandal in which Volkswagen AG admitted to putting “defeat devices” in its cars to cheat on U.S. emission tests, the automaker implemented a strategic rebranding campaign that was not only intended to place an emphasis on electric vehicles and improvements in efficiency and productivity, but to “eliminate” older workers from the company through “natural fluctuations”—an organizational reform known as the “Pact for the Future,” which included a plan to eliminate 7,000 jobs in North and South America, primarily comprised of older workers, the Complaint alleged.

The Plaintiff, Jonathan Manlove, a 53-year-old former Assistant Manager in Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, auto manufacturing facility, brought claims on behalf of himself and a class of current and former Volkswagen AG employees 50 and older. In 2017, Mr. Manlove was demoted from his position as a grade-9 Assistant Manager of In-House Logistics to a grade-6 Supervisor and placed on loan to the Assembly Department, while his former position was eliminated. Although he was told the demotion was for “economic reasons,” Mr. Manlove “was simply displaced by younger workers [in his former department] as part of the Company’s Pact for the Future,” the Complaint alleged.

When Mr. Manlove subsequently applied for other positions in the company, Volkswagen AG management prevented him from securing them, the Complaint further alleged.

The Complaint strictly sought injunctive relief, including preventing Volkswagen AG from discriminating against other older workers in the future. In February 2019, an arbitrator granted the Plaintiff’s request to seek injunctive relief in Court.

In June 2019, the Court granted certification to a class of all Volkswagen Chattanooga and Volkswagen America’s current employees who worked in Chattanooga and were fifty years of age or older.

In May 2020, the parties reached a settlement in which Volkswagen agreed to implement significant programmatic measures and reforms to remedy the discriminatory policy and practices alleged by the Class.

Attorneys Involved in the Case

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