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Michigan-based auto dealer caught not paying minimum wage to sales team

Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

—Wrongly classified some salaried employees in their business development centers as exempt from overtime requirements, and then failed to pay them overtime despite their duties not qualifying for exemption.

—Failed to maintain accurate payroll records.

A message left Thursday seeking comment from Zeigler was not returned.

Aaron Zeigler is president of Zeigler Auto Group. He is also chairman of the board of Southwest Michigan First, a high-profile organization that promotes economic development.

The auto group, which began in Lowell in 1975, is a family-owned company that owns and operates 30 retail auto dealerships, three finance companies, a leasing firm, insurance firms and a real estate portfolio throughout southwest Michigan, northern Indiana and Illinois, according to the company website.


Its new car franchises include Chevrolet, Fiat, Honda, Ram, Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Nissan, Infiniti, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, MINI, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, and Land Rover, the website said.

"The Zeigler Auto Group employs over 1,800 people and has annual sales of over $1 billion and ranks nationally in the top 1% of all dealers," the website says. "The Zeigler Auto Group has been named a 101 Best and Brightest Company to Work For in both Chicago and Michigan and recently was named a National Best and Brightest Company to Work For!"

Federal investigators work to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages for employees every year, mostly in low-wage industries such as the hospitality and restaurant industries, said Scott Allen, a labor department spokesman.

The investigation period covered February 2018 through August 2020, he told the Free Press. The findings were made public Wednesday. Federal authorities have been working with Zeigler Auto Group and confirmed the company has repaid the back wages and overtime, Allen said.

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