Colonial Automotive Group has agreed to pay $1 million to settle allegations that it exploited the state unemployment system during the COVID-19 pandemic, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.
Healey’s office said the company, which operates 16 dealerships across the region, encouraged furloughed employees to apply for unemployment benefits during a state-mandated closure of car dealership showrooms. However, they also allegedly asked those to employees continue to work without pay.
Colonial allegedly asked employees to call prospective buyers, schedule appointments with customers, deliver cars, and finalize sales during a time where they were not being paid by the company.
“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,” 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.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the $1 million from Colonial will go into the state’s general fund. The company is also agreeing to institute policies