The United States is suing a store owner who dumped 91,500 øre on the ex-worker’s driveway

The owner of a car repair shop in Georgia that dumped 91,500 oil-covered pennies in a former employee’s driveway not only created a sticky mess that took nearly seven hours to clean up, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

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

The lawsuit represents the latest twist in an employment dispute that garnered nationwide attention last year after the former employee̵[ads1]7;s girlfriend posted a video of the fat crowns on Instagram, attracting the sympathy of thousands of people who said they had also struggled with difficult bosses.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 30, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, claims that the store owner, Miles Walker, and his store, A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Ga., Retaliated 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 retiring.

Mr. Walker first claimed that his shop had prepared the payslip, but that “it never arrived in the mail,” the lawsuit states.

When a Labor Department representative called Walker regarding the pay slip on Jan. 27, Walker said he would not pay it, according to the lawsuit. But hours later, Mr. Walker decided to pay the former employee, Andreas Flaten, in kroner.

“How can you make this guy realize what a disgusting example of a human being he is,” Mr. Walker said, according to the lawsuit. “I have plenty of pennies; I’ll use them. “

On March 12, 2021, Mr. Walker left the 91,500 pile of oil-soaked pennies on Mr. Flaten’s driveway. At the top of the pile, he left a copy of Mr. Flaten’s pay slip with a statement written on it, it is stated in the lawsuit.

The next day, Mr. Flaten’s girlfriend posted the video on Instagram. When the penny pile received widespread news coverage, Mr. Walker posted a message on the store’s website.

“What started as a godcha to a subordinate former employee probably got a lot of pressure,” the message said, according to the lawsuit. ‘Let’s just say he might have stolen? Maybe he killed a dog? Maybe he killed a cat? Maybe he was lazy? Maybe he was a butcher? ”

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

“Under the law, employee engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is a protected activity,” said Steven Salazar, district director of the department’s payroll and hourly department in Atlanta, in a statement. “Workers have the right to receive information about their rights in the workplace and receive the salary they have earned without fear of harassment or threats.”

The lawsuit, which also accuses Mr. Walker and his store of failing to pay statutory overtime rates and failing to keep adequate and accurate records of employees’ pay rates and working hours, requires $ 36,971 in severance pay and compensation for at least eight employees in addition to Mr. Flaten.

Mr. Walker did not immediately respond Saturday to an email and phone call left in the store.

He told CBS46 in March that he could not remember if he had put down the crowns on Mr. Flaten’s driveway. “It does not matter – he got paid, that’s all that matters,” Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Flaten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, said last year that they had spent hours hauling around 500 pounds of pennies in a wheelbarrow up the slope of his driveway into his garage, before the weight of the coins caused the wheelbarrow’s tires to collapse.

On Saturday, Mr. Flaten said that Coinstar had finally collected the pennies, washed them and counted them and given him paper currency in return which was close to the $ 915 he owed.

Mr. Flaten described the lawsuit as a “pleasant surprise”, saying he had not been sure what to expect when he first called the Ministry of Labor last year to report that he had not received his last paycheck.

“I’m glad to see justice served,” he said. “At first I thought he got away with it quite a bit.”

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