IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Feds sue auto repair shop that paid former employee in pennies

Andreas Flaten found his final paycheck paid out in mostly pennies on his driveway last year.
A wheelbarrow filled with pennies
A wheelbarrow filled with pennies on March 20, 2021 in Fayetteville, Ga. Andreas Flaten said he found the pennies at the end of his driveway as a final payment from a former employer.Olivia Oxley via AP

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing the auto repair shop that made headlines last year by paying a former employee his final paycheck in pennies.

The suit, filed Dec. 30 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that A OK Walker Autoworks and its owner Miles Walker, discriminated against Andreas Flaten because he had called the Department of Labor to report not receiving his last paycheck.

"Within hours of learning that Mr. Flaten had complained to [the Wage and Hour Division] about not receiving his last paycheck, defendants decided to pay Mr. Flaten in pennies," the suit alleged.

In March of last year, Flaten found 91,500 pennies in his driveway, according to the suit. "Defendants left a copy of Mr. Flaten’s paycheck with an expletive written on the outside."

The Department of Labor also found that A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City had failed to pay employees for overtime work since at least April of 2019.

The suit also alleged that A OK Walker Autoworks failed "to make, keep and preserve adequate and accurate records of the persons employed and of the wages, hours and other conditions and practices of employment maintained by them," which is required by the Department of Labor.

A OK Walker Autoworks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

After receiving media attention for the penny stunt last year, a page called “Pennies” appeared on OK Walker Autoworks' website.

"Ahh, the pennies. What started out as a gotcha to a subpar ex-employee, sure got a lot of press," said the page, in part.

"Unfortunately, by law, we cannot disclose his shortcomings. Let us just say that maybe he stole? Maybe he killed a dog? Maybe he killed a cat? Maybe he was lazy? Maybe he was a butcher? Maybe he liked self-gratifying himself in clients’ cars?" it said. "Whatever you want to think is your prerogative. But know that no one would go to the trouble we did to make a point without being motivated."

The page went on to say that the U.S. Department of Labor told the company that Flaten could be paid in any denomination, and Flaten was paid more than A Ok Walker Autoworks was "legally obligated to give him" because the company wanted to include the cost to process the change.

The company claimed that 100,003 pennies, 750 dimes, two quarters, a nickel, and Flaten's pay stub were left on his driveway.

Flaten had alleged that the pennies he was paid were covered in an oily substance. A OK Walker Autoworks denied the claim, and it wasn't mentioned in the lawsuit.

"Pennies are cash! They are federally backed United States currency and are good for all debts public or private," A Ok Walker Autoworks' "Pennies" page said.

A separate page on the company's site peddles a branded shirt for $20, with the promise that a portion of proceeds will be donated to charity. The back of the T-shirt reads: "A Penny for your Thoughts."