(AP) The owner of an auto repair shop who paid a former employee with 91,500 oily pennies has been ordered by a judge to pay nearly 4 million more cents.
A federal judge ruled that Miles Walker, who owns A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Georgia, owes $39,934 to nine workers for unpaid overtime and damages.
Attorneys for Walker agreed to the payments to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the U.S. Labor Department that accused Walker of retaliating against former employee Andreas Flaten in 2021.
After Flaten filed a complaint with the agency saying Walker owed him a final $915 paycheck, the employer dumped that amount in oil-covered pennies in Flaten’s driveway. The mountain of loose change came with a pay stub signed with an expletive.
The Labor Department said further investigation found that Walker’s business had also violated overtime provisions of the federal Fair Standards and Labor Act.
The judge on June 16 signed a consent order in which Walker agreed to pay nearly $8,700 more to Flaten in owed overtime and damages. Eight other workers are to receive amounts between $14,640 and $513 within the next year.
“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,” Tremelle Howard, the Labor Department’s regional solicitor in Atlanta, said in a statement.
Walker’s attorney, Ryan Farmer, said the conflict with Flaten doesn’t reflect his client’s “true character as a businessman.”
“Mr. Walker is like many other small business owners in America — he wakes up every day doing everything he can to put food on the table,” Farmer said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, emotionally charged decisions can come back and bite you in the rear end.”