A Georgia auto restore store that went viral final yr for allegedly giving a former worker his last paycheck in 1000’s 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 fee and of publishing defamatory feedback about him on-line after Flaten contacted the division early final yr about not receiving his last paycheck.
The enterprise, positioned southwest of Atlanta, is additional accused within the lawsuit filed Dec. 30 of failing to pay its staff additional time since a minimum of April 5, 2019, and of failing to maintain satisfactory and correct data of staff’ pay charges and work hours, as required by legislation.
Flaten, in an electronic mail to lawyerroll on Tuesday, described himself as “pleasantly stunned” by the Labor Division’s submitting.
“At first I didn’t assume I’d ever see my last pay. Then the oily pennies had been dumped and actually thought he would be capable to pull a stunt like that and get away with that,” he stated. “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 had been leaving to higher themselves and tried to depart the suitable manner.”
Flaten contacted the Labor Division on Jan. 26 of final yr 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, nevertheless, and determined to pay Flaten what he was owed — however in pennies, the go well with claims.
“How will you make this man notice what a disgusting instance of a human being he’s … [Y]ou know what? I’ve bought 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 duplicate of his paystub and “an expletive written on the skin,” the lawsuit states.
The division stated it took almost seven hours to scrub the pennies, which had been coated in oil and stained his driveway.
“Employees are entitled to obtain details about their rights within the office and acquire the wages they earned with out concern of harassment or intimidation.”
– DOL Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta
The auto store defended its actions in an announcement posted to its web site and stated that “nobody employed” by the store put oil on the pennies, occurring to counsel that the previous worker did that himself “to make this extra explosive.”
“Sadly, by legislation, we can not disclose his quick comings. Allow us to simply say that possibly he stole? Perhaps he killed a canine? Perhaps he killed a cat? Perhaps he was lazy? Perhaps he was a butcher? Perhaps he preferred 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 “huge 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 urged 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 lawyerroll’s request for remark Tuesday.
Flaten instructed lawyerroll that he has not had contact with the auto store for the reason that incident and wish to hold it that manner. He stated he has immediately heard from different former staff who’ve alleged comparable poisonous abuse whereas working on the store, together with claims of withheld last paychecks. He inspired different staff, no matter their place of employment, to achieve out to the Labor Division if they’ve considerations about their pay and therapy.
“They actually do assist and there are legal guidelines which can be in place to guard you in situations like this,” he stated.
Steven Salazar, district director of the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Atlanta, additionally inspired staff to reach out if they’ve considerations.
“By legislation, employee engagement with the U.S. Division of Labor is protected exercise,” he stated in an announcement. “Employees are entitled to obtain details about their rights within the office and acquire the wages they earned with out concern of harassment or intimidation.”