US sues store owner who threw 91,500 cents down aisle of former worker | News Today

US sues store owner who threw 91,500 cents down aisle of former worker

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The owner of an auto repair shop in Georgia who threw 91,500 cents covered in petroleum down the driveway of a former employee wasn’t just creating a sticky mess that took nearly seven hours to clean up , said the US Department of Labor.

He was also retaliating against the former employee for complaining to the ministry that he had not received his last paycheck, the agency said in a lawsuit that accuses the store owner of violating federal labor law.

The lawsuit represents the latest turning point in a labor dispute that caught the country’s attention last year after the former employee’s girlfriend posted an oily pennies video on Instagram, drawing sympathy from thousands of people. people who said they too had faced difficult bosses.

The lawsuit, filed December 30 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, claims store owner Miles Walker and his store, A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Ga., Have exercised retaliation against the former employee after calling the department on Jan.26, 2021 to report that he had not received his last paycheck, for $ 915, after his resignation.

Mr Walker initially claimed his store prepared the paycheck, but “it was never mailed,” the lawsuit says.

When a Department of Labor official called Mr Walker about the paycheck on Jan.27, Mr Walker said he would not pay it, according to the lawsuit. But a few hours later, Mr Walker decided to pay the former employee, Andreas Flaten, in pennies.

“How can you convey to this guy how such a disgusting example of a human being,” Walker said, according to the lawsuit. “I have lots of money; I will use them.

On March 12, 2021, Mr. Walker left the oil-soaked 91,500-cent mound in Mr. Flaten’s driveway. In addition to the stack, he left a copy of Mr. Flaten’s paycheck with a curse written on it, according to the lawsuit.

The next day, Mr. Flaten’s girlfriend posted the video on Instagram. As the stack of pennies received widespread media coverage, Mr Walker posted a post on the store’s website.

“What started out as a trap for a former below average employee certainly got a lot of press,” the post said, according to the lawsuit. “Let’s just say maybe he stole?” Maybe he killed a dog? Maybe he killed a cat? Maybe he was lazy? Maybe it was a butcher?

In a statement, the Department of Labor called the message “defamatory” and said Mr. Walker retaliated against Mr. Flaten in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“By law, engaging workers with the US Department of Labor is a protected activity,” Steven Salazar, district manager of the department’s wages and hours division in Atlanta, said in a statement. “Workers have the right to receive information about their rights in the workplace and to obtain the wages they have earned without fear of harassment or intimidation. “

The lawsuit, which also accuses Mr. Walker and his workshop of failing to pay the overtime rates required by law and of failing to keep adequate and accurate records of employee pay rates and hours of work, claims $ 36,971 in back wages and damages for at least eight employees in in addition to Mr. Flaten.

Mr Walker did not immediately respond to an email and phone message left at the store on Saturday.

He told CBS46 in March that he couldn’t remember if he dropped the pennies down Mr. Flaten’s driveway. “It doesn’t matter – he got paid, that’s all that matters,” Walker said.

Mr Flaten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, said last year they spent hours hauling around 500 pounds of pennies in a wheelbarrow down the slope of his driveway to his garage, before the weight of the parts does not cause the wheelbarrow tires to collapse.

On Saturday, Mr Flaten said Coinstar finally collected the pennies, washed and counted them, and handed him paper money in return for an amount close to the $ 915 owed to him.

Mr Flaten described the trial as a “pleasant surprise”, saying he was unsure of what to expect when he first called the Labor Department last year to report that he did not know what to expect. hadn’t received his last paycheck.

“I am happy to see that justice is served,” he said. “At first I thought he was pretty much doing.”

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