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Feds sue shop owner who paid former employee in pennies

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Jan 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-09 15:03:03-05

Remember that business owner who dumped a wheelbarrow full of pennies on his former employee's driveway?

The shop owner allegedly was mad because the employee filed a complaint when he never got his final paycheck. Here's the next chapter in the story.

The U.S. Department of Labor has sued the Atlanta-area auto repair shop and its owner, after their investigation allegedly found the owner violated federal laws governing retaliation, overtime and record-keeping. The suit seeks $36,971 in back wages and liquidated damages.

"The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Miles Walker, the owner of 811 Autoworks LLC – operating as A OK Walker Autoworks – retaliated against one employee who contacted the agency after he resigned and the employer failed to pay his final wages," a release from the DOL states. "The department’s complaint alleges that Walker paid the former employee’s final wages of $915 by delivering about 91,500 oil-covered pennies and a pay stub marked with an expletive to the worker’s home – blocking and staining his driveway and requiring nearly seven hours for him to remove – as well as publishing defamatory statements about the former employee on the company’s website."

The division also alleges that Walker violated the FLSA’s overtime provisions by paying other employees straight time for all hours worked, failing to pay legally required overtime rate when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek. In addition, the defendant is accused of failing to keep adequate and accurate records of employees’ pay rates and work hours. The department seeks to enjoin the defendant permanently from future FLSA retaliation, overtime and recordkeeping violations, the release states.

“By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is protected activity. Workers are entitled to receive information about their rights in the workplace and obtain the wages they earned without fear of harassment or intimidation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar in Atlanta. “Workers and employers should feel free to contact the Wage and Hour Division. In fact, all employers should review their employment practices and contact the division to discuss questions they have regarding their responsibilities under the law.”

The division offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as toolkits and online videos. Learn more about the FLSA and independent contractors on the agency website or contact the Wage and Hour Division toll-free at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) for more information. Employers and employees can call their local WHD office and speak to someone confidentially in over 200 languages.