The US Department of Labor said the owner of a Georgia auto repair shop that dumped 91,500 oil-covered pennies in a former employee’s driveway wasn’t just creating a sticky mess that took nearly seven hours to clean up.
The agency said in a lawsuit that it was retaliating against the former employee for complaining to the department that he had not received his final paycheck, the agency said in a lawsuit that accused the shop owner of violating federal labor law. There is an allegation.
The lawsuit represents the latest twist in an employment dispute that attracted nationwide attention last year when a former employee’s girlfriend posted a video of oil money instagram, attracting the sympathy of thousands who said they, too, had struggled with tough bosses.
The lawsuit, filed on December 30 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, claims that Miles Walker, the owner of the shop in Peachtree City, Georgia, and his shop, A.K. Walker Autoworks, retaliated against the former employee when he Called the department on January 26, 2021 to report that after resigning, he had not received his final paycheck for $915.
Walker initially claimed that his shop prepared the paycheck, but “it never made it over the mail,” the lawsuit says.
When a representative from the Labor Department called Walker about the paycheck on January 27, Walker said he would not pay it according to the lawsuit. But hours later, Walker decided to pay the former employee, Andreas Flatten, in pennies.
According to the lawsuit, Walker said, “How can you make this man realize what a disgusting example of a human he is.” “I have a lot of money; I’ll use them.”
On March 12, Walker left a mound of 91,500, oil-soaked pennies on Flatten’s driveway. On top of the pile, he left a copy of Flatten’s paycheck, with a profanity written on it, the lawsuit says.
The next day Flatten’s girlfriend posted the video on Instagram. As soon as Penny Pile received widespread news coverage, Walker posted a message on the shop’s website.
According to the lawsuit, the message said, “What started out as a gotcha for a subpar former employee definitely got a lot of press.” “Let’s just say maybe he stole? Maybe he killed a dog? Maybe he killed a cat? Maybe he was lazy? Maybe he was a butcher?”
In a statement, the Labor Department called that message “outrageous” and said that Walker had retaliated against Flatten in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is a protected activity,” Steven Salazar, district director of the department’s wage and hours department in Atlanta, said in a statement. “Workers have the right to be informed of their rights in the workplace and to receive earned wages without fear of harassment or intimidation.”
The lawsuit, which accuses Walker and his shop of failing to pay legally required overtime rates and failing to keep adequate and accurate records of employees’ pay rates and hours worked, in addition to at least eight Back wages and damages of $36,971 have been sought for the employees. To flatten
Walker did not immediately respond to an email and a phone message left at the store on Saturday.
He told CBS46 in March that he didn’t remember if he dropped money on Flatten’s driveway.
“It doesn’t matter — he got paid, that’s all that matters,” Walker said.
Flatten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, said last year that before the wheelbarrow’s tires collapsed due to the weight of the coins, they spent hours hauling nearly 500 pounds of pennies into their garage in a wheelbarrow on the slope of their driveway.
On Saturday, Flatten said that Coinstar finally collected the pennies, washed and counted them, and in return gave them paper currency that was close to the $915 they owed.
Flatten described the lawsuit as a “pleasant surprise,” saying he wasn’t sure what to expect when he first asked the Labor Department last year to report that he had not received his final paycheck. Go.
“I am happy to see that justice is being done,” he said. “At first, I thought he got too far from it.”
This article originally appeared in the new York Times,