Jan. 22, 2021— A group of dealerships in Massachusetts has agreed to pay $1 million to settle allegations that they exploited the state’s unemployment system during the COVID-19 pandemic, WCVB reports.
Colonial Automotive Group, which operates 16 dealerships throughout the region, allegedly encouraged furloughed employees to apply for unemployment benefits while also asking those employees to continue to work without pay during a state-mandated closure of car dealership showrooms.
“Colonial Automotive planned and carried out an illegal scheme to cheat our unemployment system and avoid paying its workers in order to maximize its profits during the COVID-19 crisis,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “This is a brazen attempt at exploiting workers and the state’s unemployment system, and we will take action against those who defraud our state agencies and try to steal taxpayer dollars.”
Colonial Automotive denied the allegations but agreed to settle to “put the matter behind us.”