A Toyota engineer who triggered Vietnam’s biggest recall in history lost a second lawsuit against the company Wednesday, this time for violation of privacy and character defamation.
Le Van Tach, who previously took the carmaker to court for suspending him, docking his pay and demoting him, accused Toyota of retaliation because he exposed technical faults in its vehicles.
In a court filing on Sept. 12, Tach said his employer illegally accessed his emails, spread rumors he had had an extramarital affair and falsely accused him of plotting to shut down the company.
The Phuc Yen Province People’s Court rejected all three claims Wednesday.
The jury said managers could read his emails because they came from a company account, despite Tach’s complaint that Toyota’s policy violated Vietnamese law. The court also scolded Tach for sending personal messages from his work address.
Toyota said the engineer had emailed dozens of love letters to a woman and defended reading his correspondence because he had barraged Toyota Vietnam’s CEO with emails and letters, thus causing a “disturbance” to the CEO.
For that reason, a People’s Court in Vinh Phuc Province also ruled in the first round of litigation in April that Toyota was justified in penalizing Tach.
The company had suspended Tach for three months, during which he received half his salary, and then demoted him to a safety control division, where he made VND9.9 million (US$474) per month, VND2.6 million lower than before.
Not only did the court grant no damages to Tach this week, it also ordered he pay all court fees.
In siding with Toyota, the court said that the disciplinary actions were in line with the government’s Code of Labor and Decree 41, and that Tach knew company policy when he was hired. Jurors also concluded Toyota had not accused the engineer of any false plots.
Tach’s punishments in June and August 2011 came just months after he released findings that the Innova and Fortuner vehicles suffered below-standard bolts and high oil pressure at the rear wheels.
Immediately after Tach’s April 2011 report, Toyota Vietnam publicly apologized and released a recall plan affecting 65,703 cars manufactured in Vietnam.