A disgruntled Georgia auto repair shop owner who retaliated against a former employee by paying him nearly $1,000 in “dirty, oily pennies” now owes even more money to the man, a federal judge ruled.
A consent judgment from the Northern District of Georgia shows Miles Walker and his company A OK Luxury Autoworks in Peachtree City were recently ordered to pay Andreas Flaten and more than a half-dozen co-workers nearly $40,000 for back wages and liquidated damages.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor, the federal agency’s Wage and Hour Division department found Walker retaliated against Flaten who contacted the division after Walker failed to give him his final paycheck.
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Pennies, a pay stub and violated provisions
Investigators also learned Walker paid Flaten‘s final wages of $915 in “91,500 oil-covered pennies” with a pay stub “marked with an expletive to the worker’s home,” the release says.
In addition, they said, Walker also published defamatory statements about Flaten on the company’s website.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten, who handed the case, also determined Walker violated Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provisions by paying Flaten and eight co-workers “straight-time rates for all hours worked, including for hours over 40 in a workweek when an overtime rate-of-pay was legally required.”
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Nearly 40K in back wages and liquidated damage
On June 13, Batten ordered Walker and his business to pay $39,934 to Flaten and the other eight employees. The consent judgment for all nine workers included $19,967 in back wages and $19,697 in liquidated damages.
In addition, the judge told Walker to remove photographs and references to Flaten from the company’s website and social media pages and to post the judgment in “conspicuous places” at the repair shop.
Following the judgment, Atlanta-based Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria said people are entitled to obtain wages they earn “without fear of harassment or intimidation.”
“The court has sent a clear message to employers such as Miles Walker who subject employees to unfair wage practices and outright intimidation and retaliation,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard. “By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is a protected activity.”
Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.