Fiat Chrysler's Reid Bigland Files Lawsuit Against… Fiat Chrysler
There’s drama in Auburn Hills tonight. And, by the sounds of it, for many days leading up to this point. Reid Bigland, Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. sales boss and the appropriately imposing head of the cash-cow Ram brand, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his employer.
Bigland, who joined Chrysler in 2006 and soon found himself heading up Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Dodge, plus serving as CEO of FCA Canada (a role he maintains), claims the company’s HQ is awash in bad blood. The exec says he’s being punished for not taking the fall in a federal investigation into FCA’s sales reporting.
The suit, filed Wednesday, alleges FCA brass retaliated against Bigland after he cooperated with the probe, The Detroit News reports. It goes on to say that Bigland’s pay fell by more than 90 percent after he declined to admit wrongdoing, arguing last year that he had inherited the company’s sales reporting practices.
The Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation in 2016 after two Illinois FCA dealers hit the company with a racketeering lawsuit, claiming they were offered cash in return for falsely inflating their sales figures. The practice of counting certain unsold vehicles as sales forced FCA to recount and re-report its past sales volumes.
The SEC’s investigation continued.
Bigland claims, per the lawsuit, that he told investigators FCA’s sales reporting methodology existed long before his time as sales chief. Former CEO Sergio Marchionne knew about it, he stated. Between taking the position and the time of the investigation, Bigland claims he did nothing to tamper with the reporting apparatus already in place. In the suit, Bigland’s lawyer says the SEC hoped to end the probe with an admission of “some” wrongdoing on her client’s part — an offer Bigland declined. He further detailed the company’s reporting practices in a letter sent to the SEC and FCA late last year.
Apparently, the shit hit the fan blades soon after.
From The Detroit News:
“(Bigland’s) unwillingness to act as a scapegoat for defendants’ 30-year practice which predated him, and his candor regarding defendants’ knowledge of this practice prior to and during his tenure as head of U.S. caused FCA to retaliate against plaintiff less than 2 months later by withholding his compensation,” Bigland’s lawyer wrote.
“His eligibility for incentive compensation — like that of all corporate officers — is subject to a determination by the Board of Directors’ compensation committee that he has satisfied the applicable company and personal performance conditions,” FCA said in an e-mailed statement to The News.
“Mr. Bigland’s eligibility for his award remains subject to that determination and completion of a Board-level evaluation of issues that are the subject to governmental investigations (as previously disclosed by FCA) in which FCA continues to cooperate. Beyond that, it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation or internal compensation processes.”
Knocked down to a base salary in the absence of bonuses (Bigland sold his company shares in 2018, the suit claims, angering FCA officials), the exec remains at odds with his company — and allegedly far less wealthy than before.
Bigland’s lawsuit claims FCA withheld his compensation to pay for future fines levied by the SEC.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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It sounds like the time for the ascension of Lapo Elkann is upon us!
"Bigland, who joined Chrysler in 2006 and soon found himself heading up Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Dodge, plus serving as CEO of FCA Canada (a role he maintains), claims the company’s HQ is awash in bad blood. The exec says he’s being punished for not taking the fall in a federal investigation into FCA’s sales reporting." "Soon", in 2006? In 2006, Chrysler was owned by Cerberus, was helmed by "Minimum Bob" Nardelli, and didn't have anything to do with Fiat.