On August 20, General Motors began a highly publicized campaign expanding its employee discount program to the public at large.

Around the same time, GM also began filing lawsuits against workers that had previously been doing exactly that - expanding the discount to non-employees and people outside their immediate family. The suits are seeking a total $450,000 in damages.

Alleging fraud in the application of the employee discount to ineligible buyers, the suits include current and former employees as their targets.

One such defendant, a retired autoworker in Buffalo, New York, is being sued for 13 infractions totaling $45,501 in claimed damages over a three-year period ending in 2007, reports The Detroit News. The irony - or hypocrisy, as it might fairly be called - of simultaneously expanding the discount and prosecuting previous violators of the program is not lost on the defendants or their legal representatives.

The company itself admits that it may have turned a blind eye to such abuses of its discount program in years past, when losses weren't counted in the dozens of billions. Now that times are hard and cash is scarce, however, things have to change. That position stands at odds with the recent official expansion of the discount, however, and combined with the company's past failure to take action against employees handing out discounts without authorization, GM may find itself estopped from further action against those employees.