U.S. Department of Labor Sues on Behalf of Man Paid in Pennies

Pennies paid to Andreas Flaten. | Image from Fox5

An auto repair shop owner in Peachtree City, Georgia, is being sued by the US Department of Labor after he paid his former employee in pennies, per Fox 5 News.

In March 2021, Miles Walker, owner of A OK Walker Autoworks, dispensed his former employee’s final paycheck in the form of oil-soaked pennies.

Andreas Flaten, the ex-worker, displaying a wheelbarrow of more than 91,000 in pennies to Fox 5, said, “This is my final paycheck. Nine-hundred-fifteen dollars in pennies.”

Flaten had to clean each penny individually.

In the complaint filed on Wednesday, Flaten explained that after resigning and not receiving his final check, he contacted the Department of Labor (DOL) in January 2021.

When the DOL Wage and Hour Division reached out to Walker, he informed them he would not release the former employee’s money. He then dumped the pennies, along with a derogatory note, onto Flaten’s driveway after discovering that the former employee called the department.

In addition, Walker allegedly posted slanderous things on his auto shop website about Flaten.

According to the Department of Labor, the employer’s behavior was an act of retaliation.

Steven Salazar, the District Director with the US DOL Wage and Hour Division, said of the incident, “An employee has a right to understand what their rights are and to ensure they are being paid properly. Any time they inquire [about] 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.”

According to Salazar, the auto shop owner also owes $37,000 in back wages and liquidated damages and does not meet the Fair Labor Standards Act requirements.

The district director explained one of the elements Walker is lacking in is “Recordkeeping, which means they’re tracking the actual hours employees are working and making sure they’re paying them in compliance with the minimum wage, which is 7.25 an hour under federal law for all hours worked. Then overtime, premium pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a work-week. So without maintaining proper records, how is the employee expected to be paid properly?”

Salazar urges employees to use their voices if they feel they are not being appropriately treated and also suggests employers should give DOL a call if they need assistance with understanding the regulations.

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