More than 200 employees of Atlantic Automotive Components LLC have been ordered to reimburse the state of Michigan for unemployment benefits they improperly received.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency said 75 of the 215 people involved intentionally collected unemployment pay while working at Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Atlantic, while the others failed to report correctly some earnings such as holiday, training or vacation pay received while collecting benefits.
``In these cases, we believe the workers' actions were unintentional,'' said Sharon Bommarito, UIA director, in a May 27 news release.
In total, the 215 must repay $693,419 in benefits, while the 75 involved in the intentional fraud must pay an additional $2.3 million in penalties.
Atlantic injection and blow molds parts including instrument panel components and door trim. It employs about 400. Visteon Corp. owns 70 percent of the company.
Bommarito said the plan to defraud the state began during some short-term shut-downs that are typical in the auto industry during January and July.
Hourly employees typically file for unemployment benefits during the short-term layoffs, Bommarito said. In 75 cases, however, the workers continued to claim benefits even after they returned to work.
``The company brought the issue to our attention after they became aware of one employee who was drawing benefits while working,'' she said. ``Further investigation uncovered others.''
The state will use a variety of methods to recoup the benefits and penalties, including witholding state income tax refunds, placing liens against property owned in Michigan or referring cases to the Michigan Attorney General's office.