US Dept of Labor sues company that dumped 91,500 pennies onto ex-employee's driveway as final payment

Remember in March when Andreas Flaten—ex-employee of A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Georgia—discovered his final wages dumped on his driveway in the form of 91,500 oily pennies and a note that read "F*** You"? Now, the US Department of Labor has filed suit against A OK's owner Miles Walker. The lawsuit contends that Flaten contacted the labor department to report that he hadn't received his final paycheck and that Walker retaliated. From the New York Times:

As the penny pile drew widespread news coverage, Mr. Walker posted a message on the shop's website.

"What started out as a gotcha to a subpar ex-employee, sure got a lot of press," the message said, according to the lawsuit. "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?"

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

"By law, worker engagement with the U.S. Department of Labor is protected activity," Steven Salazar, district director of the department's wage and hour division in Atlanta, said in a statement. "Workers are entitled to receive information about their rights in the workplace and obtain the wages they earned without fear of harassment or intimidation."

The lawsuit, which also accuses Mr. Walker and his shop of failing to pay legally required overtime rates and failing to keep adequate and accurate records of employees' pay rates and work hours, seeks $36,971 in back wages and damages for at least eight employees in addition to Mr. Flaten.