Georgia employer facing Labor Dept lawsuit after paying departing staffer in pennies
The action was a retaliation and a violation of the employee’s rights to be paid properly, the lawsuit alleges
The U.S. Labor Department said this week it is suing a Georgia auto-repair shop owner who allegedly paid a departing employee with more than 91,000 pennies.
"This is my final paycheck. Nine-hundred-fifteen dollars in pennies," Andreas Flaten, a Fayetteville resident and former employee of A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, previously told FOX 5.
The Labor Department's suit names as a defendant business owner Miles Walker, who is alleged to have retaliated against Flaten amid a dispute over his final paycheck, the report said.
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According to the complaint, Flaten resigned from the auto shop in November 2020 and Walker did not issue him a final check.
Flaten told local station WGCL-TV that Walker promised him the $915 by January 2021, but the money never came.
Flaten then contested the missing pay that same month, via a request to the Labor Department, which followed up with Walker.
The business owner informed the department’s Wage and Hour Division that he would not be paying out the money, but ultimately delivered it to Flaten’s driveway – in a pile of greased pennies.
The former employee estimated the pile, which he put into a wheelbarrow, weighed more than 500 pounds. The wheels of Flaten's wheelbarrow flattened under the load.
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The action was a retaliation and a violation of the employee’s rights to be paid properly, the lawsuit alleges.
"An employee has a right to understand what their rights are and to ensure they are being paid properly. Any time they inquire the employer, whether it be verbally or in writing or even contacting our office, that employee has a right to not be retaliated against or discriminated against," Steven Salazar, district director with the Wage and Hour Division, told FOX 5.
Moreover, Walker’s pile contained an explicit note and he used the auto shop’s official website to post defamatory comments about the former employee, per the report.
Flaten also claims Walker still owes him about $37,000 in back wages and damages, the report said.
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After the initial story broke in March, Walker said via the auto shop website that the business had received aggressive comments and even death threats, FOX 5 reported.