Mechanic who sabotaged cars demands 28,000 euros severance pay

However, the subdistrict court has given the green light for the dismissal. The mechanic can whistle for the 28,000 euros he has demanded in severance payments.

The Limburg garage where he worked was ravaged last spring by a series of unexplained serious defects in cars brought there for repair or maintenance.

Unexplained defects

For example, in an Opel Vivaro brought in for maintenance in March, the dashboard lighting no longer worked because a fuse had been destroyed.

That same month, a software update was performed on an almost new Opel Grandland Hybrid, after which the car stopped running at all. An investigation by Opel Nederland showed that the car no longer worked ‘because it had been tampered with’.

cut cable

On April 6, there was an oil leak at an Opel Astra, as a result of a loose sump plug. On April 8, a trade-in car leaked oil because a bolt turned out to be loose. And on April 22, the garage noted a power steering failure of a BMW X-5, which was the result of a cut cable.

It was also hit on April 21. An Opel Corsa was parked outside the garage after the repair. The owner came to collect the car at 4pm but returned right away as the oil light was on. There was a large puddle of oil where the car had been parked. There was also a loose sump plug, the cap at the bottom of the oil reservoir.

Camera images

Because there was no trace of oil from the garage to the parking space, the garage concluded that the leak did not originate in the workshop, but in the parking lot itself. Camera images from the nearby gas station were then viewed. It showed how the mechanic approached the car around 2 pm, knelt by the hood and performed an action with his left hand at the bottom of the engine.

When the mechanic was asked if he had been to the Opel, he initially denied. When he was shown the CCTV footage and asked what he was doing with the car, he gave no explanation.

Fired immediately

The garage then fired him on the spot. The primary reason for the dismissal was the involvement in the Opel’s oil spill. The employer also held the man responsible for the other unexplained incidents.

“It is obvious that you have deliberately sabotaged various cars, with all the consequences that entails,” said the employer in the resignation letter.

Mechanic demands 28,000 euros

The mechanic then went to the Limburg court. There he denied having anything to do with the sabotage, and that he was wrongly fired. In court he demanded about 28,000 euros in severance payments.

Before the court, the mechanic suddenly came up with an explanation for the presence on camera at the oil-leaking Opel Corsa.

He would have wanted to check the work of another mechanic precisely because there had been recent incidents of oil leakage. At most he would have been blamed for carrying out this check carelessly.

No explanation for sabotage

The subdistrict court judge in Maastricht did not believe anything of the statement afterwards. The judge assumes that the mechanic is the one who deliberately caused the oil leak from the car. “One can only guess at the reason for this behavior,” the subdistrict court judge noted in the ruling.

According to the subdistrict court, the sabotage of the Opel Corsa alone was reason enough to immediately dismiss the mechanic. The garage company does not have to pay the man any severance pay.

The mechanic not only loses his job and the right to unemployment benefits. He also has to pay his former employer almost 5000 euros in wage restitution and damages, and 750 euros in legal costs.

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