One boss got so angry after a former employee contacted government labor regulators about a missing paycheck that he delivered the money in the form of 91,000 greasy pennies dropped on the worker’s driveway. 

Now, the Labor Department has found that Miles Walker, the owner of A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Georgia, retaliated against the worker by dumping the coins and by trashing the employee on the business’ website, according to a recently concluded investigation.

According to legal filings, the drama started when Andreas Flaten, who had left his job at the auto shop in 2021, called the Labor Department to complain that he had never received his last paycheck. After the agency contacted the shop to inquire about the payment, Walker responded by delivering the payment in pennies. 

Payback in pennies

Two months later, on March 12, 2021, Walker dumped the oil-covered pennies in Flaten’s driveway, along with a pay statement with an expletive written on it. It’s unknown how the owner delivered the greasy penny pile, which would weigh about 500 pounds. 

According to the Labor Department, the auto shop also posted a statement on its website calling the penny dump “a gotcha to a subpar ex-employee” and suggesting he deserved it. “Let us just say that maybe he stole? Maybe he killed a dog? Maybe he killed a cat? Maybe he was lazy? Maybe he was a butcher? . . . know that no one would go to the trouble we did to make a point without being motivated,” the posting read, according to the agency’s complaint

The posting has since been removed, although the shop’s website now contains a disclaimer to disregard reviews written between March and July of 2021. “After the pennies issue went viral the kids in the basement fabricated tons of fake reviews,” the shop said.

The Labor Department sued A OK Walker Autoworks, claiming that Walker and his business retaliated against Flaten, which is illegal under federal labor law. The agency also alleged that Walker broke overtime laws by not paying at least nine workers time-and-a-half  for labor exceeding 40 hours in a week.

Back pay and damages

Under a consent judgment filed last week, the shop must pay $39,000 in back pay and damages to the workers who should’ve been paid overtime. The individual payouts range from $192 to $14,640. Flaten, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is in line to get $8,690.

The auto shop must permanently take down all written material about, and photos of, Flaten, according to the consent order. It must also post the order in a conspicuous place on its premises.

“By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is a protected activity. Workers should not fear harassment or intimidation in the workplace,” Tremelle Howard, regional solicitor for the Department of Labor, said in a statement. 

Reached for comment, Miles Walker said, “I have nothing to say to any reporter breathing today.” 


By admin