Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the automaker Wednesday, claiming he has been a scapegoat for the company's sales practices being probed by federal officials.
In the suit, Bigland claims the company has retaliated against him for cooperating with a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into FCA sales irregularities and slashed his pay by about 90 percent, starting in March. The company plans to use any withheld compensation to pay penalties or settlements reached with the SEC, according to the lawsuit filed in Michigan's Oakland County Circuit Court.
The automaker's actions will cost Bigland about $1.8 million, the lawsuit says.
Bigland, according to the suit, says he has cooperated with the SEC investigation, testifying "at length" about Fiat Chrysler's U.S. sales reporting practices, which he said long predated his appointment as U.S. sales chief in 2011, according to the lawsuit.
"In late 2018, presumably as a way to wrap up their investigation with some result, the SEC suggested to plaintiff that he admit to some wrongdoing as to defendants' monthly sales reporting," Deborah Gordon, Bigland's lawyer, wrote in the lawsuit. "The SEC also suggested a resolution involving some penalty to FCA. Because (Bigland) had not engaged in any wrongdoing, and there was no wrongdoing, he declined to do so."