U.S. sues store proprietor who dumped 91,500 pennies on ex-worker’s driveway

The proprietor of a Georgia auto restore store who dumped 91,500 oil-covered pennies in a former worker’s driveway was not simply making a sticky mess that took practically seven hours to scrub up, the U.S. Division of Labor stated.

He was additionally retaliating towards the previous worker for having complained to the division that he had not obtained his remaining paycheck, the company stated in a lawsuit that accuses the store proprietor of violating federal labor legislation.

The lawsuit represents the newest flip in an employment dispute that gained nationwide consideration final yr after the previous worker’s girlfriend posted a video of the oily pennies on Instagram, attracting the sympathies of hundreds of people that stated they, too, had contended with tough bosses.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 30 in U.S. District Courtroom for the Northern District of Georgia, claims that the store proprietor, Miles Walker, and his store, A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree Metropolis, Georgia, retaliated towards the previous worker after he known as the division on Jan. 26, 2021, to report that he had not obtained his remaining paycheck, for $915, after he resigned.

Walker initially claimed that his store had ready the paycheck however that “it by no means made it to the mail,” the lawsuit says.

When a Labor Division consultant known as Walker concerning the paycheck Jan. 27, Walker stated he wouldn’t pay it, in keeping with the lawsuit. However hours later, Walker determined to pay the previous worker, Andreas Flaten, in pennies.

“How will you make this man notice what a disgusting instance of a human being he’s,” Walker stated, in keeping with the lawsuit. “I’ve acquired loads of pennies; I’ll use them.”

On March 12, Walker left the mound of 91,500, oil-soaked pennies on Flaten’s driveway. On prime of the pile, he left a duplicate of Flaten’s paycheck with an expletive written on it, the lawsuit stated.

The subsequent day, Flaten’s girlfriend posted the video on Instagram. Because the penny pile drew widespread information protection, Walker posted a message on the store’s web site.

“What began out as a gotcha to a subpar ex-employee, positive acquired loads of press,” the message stated, in keeping with the lawsuit. “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?”

In an announcement, the Labor Division known as that message “defamatory” and stated that Walker had retaliated towards Flaten in violation of the Honest Labor Requirements Act.

“By legislation, employee engagement with the U.S. Division of Labor is protected exercise,” Steven Salazar, district director of the division’s wage and hour division in Atlanta, stated in an announcement. “Employees are entitled to obtain details about their rights within the office and procure the wages they earned with out concern of harassment or intimidation.”

The lawsuit, which additionally accuses Walker and his store of failing to pay legally required extra time charges and failing to maintain satisfactory and correct information of workers’ pay charges and work hours, seeks $36,971 in again wages and damages for at the least eight workers along with Flaten.

Walker didn’t instantly reply Saturday to an e-mail and a telephone message left on the store.

He advised CBS46 in March that he couldn’t bear in mind if he had dropped the pennies on Flaten’s driveway.

“It doesn’t matter — he acquired paid, that’s all that issues,” Walker stated.

Flaten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, stated final yr that they’d spent hours hauling about 500 kilos of pennies in a wheelbarrow up the slope of his driveway into his storage, earlier than the load of the cash brought about the wheelbarrow’s tires to break down.

On Saturday, Flaten stated Coinstar had ultimately collected the pennies, washed them and counted them and had given him paper foreign money in return that was near the $915 he was owed.

Flaten described the lawsuit as a “nice shock,” saying he had not been positive what to anticipate when he first known as the Division of Labor final yr to report that he had not obtained his remaining paycheck.

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