Volkswagen accused of companywide age discrimination by ex-manager

A Tennessee employee of Volkswagen AG sued the automaker and alleged that it has been systematically discriminating against older workers in the wake of a massive emissions scandal that tarnished the company’s reputation.

Jonathan Manlove, a former assistant manager in logistics for the automaker at its Tennessee plant, said he was demoted as part of the company’s effort to shed its “old diesel image” and appear more like a “modern, young company focused on productivity, efficiency and technology,” according to a complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.

Manlove, 53, said his demotion was part of a “company-wide” effort to eliminate older employees from its ranks, and replace them with younger workers. Although the company announced that its policy would be implemented through “natural fluctuations,” the automaker instead began purging older workers through coercive practices, Manlove says.

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting the discriminatory practices on behalf of all current employees over the age of 50 who are affected.

VW incurred about $30 billion in expenses since admitting in 2015 that it installed software on about 11 million diesel cars that allowed the vehicles to detect when they were being tested in laboratory conditions, seeking to boost sales of “clean diesel” automobiles that would conform to more strict emissions standards and appeal to consumers with environmental concerns. Two of its executives were sent to prison over the scandal.

VW doesn’t comment on pending litigation, spokesman Mike Tolbert said by email on Friday.

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