In 2021, Audi will present its guidelines on gender-fair language. An employee of the parent company Volkswagen then sued the company. Audi now rejects the compromise of addressing the plaintiff separately in conventional language as unmanageable.
In a process about gender-appropriate language at Audi, the company rejects the compromise of deviating from its gender guidelines for individual employees. An employee of the parent company Volkswagen, who has to work with Audi colleagues, sued Audi after the company refused to issue a cease-and-desist declaration. The plaintiff sees his general personal rights violated by the guidelines. The presiding judge in the district court of Ingolstadt proposed to reach an amicable agreement to write to the plaintiff in the conventional language in the future. However, the Audi lawyers rejected this as impractical and unmanageable.
The guide caused controversy immediately after it was introduced in March 2021. At the time, Audi emphasized that in the future gender-sensitive formulations would be necessary in all internal and external letters from the company. The company proposes either neutral formulations ("manager" instead of "boss") or the so-called gender gap, with which the male and female forms are connected with an underscore: This is how the previous "Audians" become "Audians". The plaintiff also quoted from Audi's work instructions to him with formulations such as: "The BSM expert is a qualified technical expert".
Plaintiff's attorney Dirk Giesen said his client was clearly in favor of equality and against discrimination. But "he wants to be left alone with this gender language". Audi should no longer send him emails, email attachments and instructions specifying the gender gap. The lawyers believe that language should not be specified in such concrete terms. You also regard the process as a model process that has an impact beyond Audi.
Judge Christoph Hellerbrand, on the other hand, made it clear that his chamber would not make a fundamental judgment. This process is only about the specific individual case: "It's about you, about your personal concern through this gender guide," he told the VW employee.
The lawsuit is supported by the German Language Association, which rejects gender as an ideology. Other language maintenance organizations see a need for gendering, but appeal to compliance with grammatical rules. The Society for the German Language sees double naming ("pupils") as positive, but the gender gap as problematic.
Audi spokesman Wolfgang Schmid emphasized in advance that the company wants to maintain an organizational culture that is characterized by mutual respect and appreciation. "The use of gender-sensitive language means communication that values and takes into account all genders and gender identities."