A store owner who underpaid a former worker is asked to pay more
An auto repair shop owner who distributed a former employee’s wages with about 91,500 pennies left in his driveway has been ordered by a Georgia court to pay nearly $40,000 in back pay and damages. The ruling stated that the store owner retaliated against the worker who asked for his last salary, and that he failed to pay overtime pay to the man and eight other employees.
Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, issued the order in a lawsuit filed by the federal Department of Labor in 2021 against Miles Walker, owner of A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks in Peachtree City. A statement from the Labor Department said the prosecution alleged That Mr. Walker retaliated against Andreas Flaten, an employee, after he informed Mr. Flaten that he had not received his final pay of $915 following his resignation.
“Investigators learned that Walker later paid the former employee’s final wage of $915 by delivering approximately 91,500 oil-covered pennies and a receipt with an expletive on them to the worker’s home,” the Labor Department said. He also published “defamatory statements” against the former employee on the company’s website.
The consent judgment, which is based on an agreement between the parties, requires Mr. Walker to refrain from intimidating and retaliating against former or current employees. It ordered Mr. Walker to remove images of and references to Mr. Flaten from the company’s website and social media, and to post a copy of the consent judgment and federal rules against workplace retaliation at his facility.
The ruling also said that Mr. Walker violated federal overtime provisions by paying employees regular rates of pay when overtime was legally required. It requires him to pay wages and compensation totaling $39,934.18 to the nine employees.
Tremel Howard, a regional attorney for the Department of Labor, said the order sent a “clear message” to employers about unfair pay practices, intimidation and retaliation.
“Under the law, workers’ interactions with the U.S. Department of Labor are protected activity,” she said in the statement. “Workers should not fear harassment or intimidation in the workplace.”
Cade Parian and Ryan Farmer of Parian Lawyers, who represented Mr. Walker, said in a statement Tuesday that Mr. Walker wanted to remain focused on running his small business.
“This behavior is not indicative of Miles Walker’s true character as a businessman, and he looks forward to putting this case behind him and getting back to work,” the statement read.
The case attracted national attention in March 2021, when Flaten’s girlfriend posted a photo on Instagram showing a pile of pennies that had been dumped at the end of his driveway.
At the top of the hill was a pay stub and an envelope with an expletive written on it.
In December 2021, the Department of Labor filed a lawsuit accusing Mr. Walker of violating federal labor law after Mr. Flaten informed the department that he had not received his final salary of $915.
Mr. Walker said his store issued the paycheck, but it “never arrived in the mail,” the lawsuit said. He then told a Department of Labor representative that he would not pay the amount, according to the lawsuit, but finally decided to do so for pennies.
“I have a lot of pennies; “I’m going to use it,” Mr. Walker said at the time, according to the lawsuit.
“I’m glad justice was served,” Mr. Flaten said in an interview with Atlanta News First on Monday. “I strongly believe in karma now.”