Mattox, in the lawsuit, claims that around the time the dealership was approved for the loan, the store "changed the amount and method by which it compensated its sales representatives as well as the way it documented their compensation. In addition to receiving typical pay stubs, Mattox (and others) began receiving 'settle up' statements that reflected 'Payroll Protection' funds being deducted from their commissions as part of the compensation calculation."
The lawsuit says "it appears that, while Payroll Protection funds were paid out in certain months, they were essentially recouped from employees in subsequent months through unauthorized withdrawals from their compensation."
Mattox — who had been with the dealership since 2015 — is suing for more than $75,000, plus two times back pay, interest, special damages, costs and lawyer fees.
The lawsuit claims Edward Neyra, president of the dealership, gave Mattox "several pretextual reasons" for his termination, including being written up June 24, which Mattox rebutted.
Neyra did not respond to several requests, by phone and email, from Automotive News for comment. Ginny McAfee, vice president of finance at the dealership, said in an email the dealership couldn't comment on pending litigation. James Papakirk, Mattox's lawyer, also declined to comment because of the pending litigation, and a Jaguar Land Rover spokeswoman declined to comment.
Neyra told WCPO ABC 9 in Cincinnati last month that Mattox's firing "had nothing to do with PPP," and said it properly handled the loan.
"The problem is they don't understand it," Neyra told the TV station. "I can guarantee you we went by the rules. I'm proud of what we do and how we do it."
It's not clear whether the dealership is being investigated by the government for potential misuse of program funds. The Small Business Administration told Automotive News it does not comment on individual loans or pending litigation.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio said they are "never able to confirm or deny investigations" when asked whether the Justice Department was investigating the dealership.
As of Sept. 10, the Justice Department said it had filed charges against 57 defendants for program-related fraud.