The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against a Peachtree City auto repair shop owner after he paid a former employee’s final wages of $915 by delivering about 91,500 oil-covered pennies.
According to the complaint, the U.S. Department of Labor is seeking $36,971 in back wages and liquidated damages after investigators found they violated the retaliation, overtime, and recordkeeping prohibitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Miles Walker, the owner of 811 Autoworks LLC – operating as A OK Walker Autoworks – retaliated against one employee who contacted the agency after he resigned and the employer failed to pay his final wages.
The department’s complaint alleges that Walker paid the former employee’s final wages of $915 by delivering about 91,500 oil-covered pennies and a pay stub marked with an expletive to the worker’s home – blocking and staining his driveway and requiring nearly seven hours for him to remove – as well as publishing defamatory statements about the former employee on the company’s website.
Coinstar®, known for its network of coin-counting kiosks, stepped in to help Flaten by picking up the oily, dirty pennies at his home and in return gave him $1,000 in cash.
“It was a shock and frustrating to be paid in this manner, and it was an extra burden that the pennies were covered with an oily substance,” Andreas Flaten told Coinstar. “I was spending an hour or two a night trying to clean the pennies and probably only cleaned off about $5 worth. I was so relieved and grateful that Coinstar agreed to help me.”
The division also determined that Walker violated the FLSA’s overtime provisions by paying other employees straight time for all hours worked, failing to pay legally required overtime rate when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. In addition, the defendant also failed to keep adequate and accurate records of employees’ pay rates and work hours. The department seeks to enjoin the defendant permanently from future FLSA retaliation, overtime and recordkeeping violations.
“By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is protected activity. Workers are entitled to receive information about their rights in the workplace and obtain the wages they earned without fear of harassment or intimidation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “Workers and employers should feel free to contact the Wage and Hour Division. In fact, all employers should review their employment practices and contact the division to discuss questions they have regarding their responsibilities under the law.”
The division offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as toolkits and online videos. Learn more about the FLSA and independent contractors on the agency website or contact the Wage and Hour Division toll-free at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information. Employers and employees can call their local WHD office and speak to someone confidentially in over 200 languages.