A Georgia auto restore store that went viral final 12 months for allegedly giving a former worker his remaining paycheck in hundreds of oil-covered pennies, requiring almost seven hours of cleansing, is now being sued by the Division of Labor.
A OK Walker Autoworks and its proprietor, Miles Walker, in Peachtree Metropolis are accused of unlawfully retaliating in opposition to Andreas Flaten with the greasy penny cost and of publishing defamatory feedback about him on-line after Flaten contacted the division early final 12 months about not receiving his remaining paycheck.
The enterprise, positioned southwest of Atlanta, is additional accused within the lawsuit filed Dec. 30 of failing to pay its workers extra time since at the very least April 5, 2019, and of failing to maintain enough and correct information of workers’ pay charges and work hours, as required by regulation.
Flaten, in an e-mail to HuffPost on Tuesday, described himself as “pleasantly stunned” by the Labor Division’s submitting.
“At first I didn’t assume I’d ever see my remaining pay. Then the oily pennies have been dumped and truthfully thought he would be capable to pull a stunt like that and get away with that,” he mentioned. “So I’m very glad to see the DOL stepped up as a result of nobody deserves to be handled like that, particularly after they have been leaving to higher themselves and tried to depart the fitting means.”
Flaten contacted the Labor Division on Jan. 26 of final 12 months to report the enterprise withholding his final paycheck after he stop in November. A consultant with the division’s Wage and Hour Division contacted the auto restore store in regards to the lacking paycheck and was instructed that Flaten wouldn’t obtain it, in accordance with the lawsuit.
Walker shortly after had a change of coronary heart, nonetheless, and determined to pay Flaten what he was owed — however in pennies, the swimsuit claims.
“How are you going to make this man notice what a disgusting instance of a human being he’s … [Y]ou know what? I’ve received loads of pennies; I’ll use them,” Walker is quoted within the lawsuit as saying.
Almost two months after Flaten contacted authorities, Walker dumped roughly 91,500 pennies on Flaten’s driveway on March 12 together with a replica of his paystub and “an expletive written on the skin,” the lawsuit states.
The division mentioned it took almost seven hours to wash the pennies, which have been lined in oil and stained his driveway.
“Employees are entitled to obtain details about their rights within the office and procure the wages they earned with out worry of harassment or intimidation.”
– DOL Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta
The auto store defended its actions in a press release posted to its web site and mentioned that “nobody employed” by the store put oil on the pennies, happening to counsel that the previous worker did that himself “to make this extra explosive.”
“Sadly, by regulation, we can’t disclose his brief comings. Allow us to simply say that possibly he stole? Possibly he killed a canine? Possibly he killed a cat? Possibly he was lazy? Possibly he was a butcher? Possibly he favored self-gratifying himself in shoppers’ vehicles?” the publish, which was not too long ago faraway from the store’s web site, said of the previous worker.
The publish went on to insist that its actions weren’t a “massive deal” for the reason that former worker was in the end paid in money. It blamed “the lame-stream media” for amplifying the story and recommended individuals as a substitute focus their consideration on taking “a stand in opposition to the tyranny of an overbearing authorities.”
The auto store didn’t instantly reply to HuffPost’s request for remark Tuesday.
Flaten instructed HuffPost that he has not had contact with the auto store for the reason that incident and wish to preserve it that means. He mentioned he has straight heard from different former workers who’ve alleged comparable poisonous abuse whereas working on the store, together with claims of withheld remaining paychecks. He inspired different employees, no matter their place of employment, to succeed in out to the Labor Division if they’ve issues about their pay and therapy.
“They actually do assist and there are legal guidelines which are in place to guard you in cases like this,” he mentioned.
Steven Salazar, district director of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta, additionally inspired employees to attain out if they’ve issues.
“By regulation, employee engagement with the U.S. Division of Labor is protected exercise,” he mentioned in a press release. “Employees are entitled to obtain details about their rights within the office and procure the wages they earned with out worry of harassment or intimidation.”