A federal judge decided that a Georgia auto shop owner who paid an ex-employee almost $1,000 in “dirty, oily pennies” as a way to get back at him now owes the man even more money.
A consent ruling from the Northern District of Georgia says that Miles Walker and his Peachtree City company, A-OK Luxury Autoworks, have to pay Andreas Flaten and more than a half-dozen other employees nearly $40,000 for back wages and other damages.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, the agency’s Wage and Hour Division found that Walker punished Flaten for calling the division when Walker didn’t give him his final paycheck.
Pennies, a Pay Stub, and He Broke the Law
Investigators also found out that Walker paid Flaten’s last paycheck of $915 in “91,500 oil-covered pennies” with a pay stub “marked with an expletive and sent to the worker’s home,” the release says.
They also said that Walker said bad things about Flaten on the company’s website, which is against the law.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten, who handled the case, also said that Walker broke the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rules by paying Flaten and eight other 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 $40,000 in Back Pay and Damages
On June 13, Batten told Walker and his business to pay Flaten and the other nine workers a total of $39,934. All nine workers got $19,967 in back pay and $19,697 in “liquidated damages” as part of the agreement.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Georgia auto shop owner Miles Walker has to pay Andreas Flaten and 8 coworkers nearly $39,934 in a judgment after originally paying in dirty pennies. https://t.co/vOZ1LQqvxZ
— USA TODAY Money (@USATODAYmoney) June 20, 2023
The judge also told Walker to take down any photos or mentions of Flaten from the company’s website and social media pages. He was also told to post the ruling in “obvious places” at the repair shop.
After the ruling, Juan Coria, who works for Wage and Hour in Atlanta, said that people have the right to get the money they’ve earned “without fear of harassment or intimidation.”
“The court has sent a clear message to employers like Miles Walker who use unfair wage practices, intimidation, and retaliation against their workers,” said Tremelle Howard, a regional lawyer for the U.S. Department of Labor. “The law protects workers who work with the U.S. Department of Labor.”
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