Revenge backfires: $39k fine for business that paid former worker with delivery of oily pennies

Georgia auto repair shop owner, Miles Walker, learned the hard way that revenge can be expensive. After deciding to pay former employee Andreas Flaten's final paycheck in 91,500 oil-covered pennies, Walker and his business, A OK Luxury Autoworks, got slapped with a hefty bill. A court ordered him to cough up more than $39,000 to Flaten and eight other workers. This wasn't just about the unconventional penny payment, but also for back wages and "liquidated damages."


The pile of pennies was so large it blocked and stained Flatens' driveway and took almost seven hours for Flaten to remove.

…In April 2021 Flaten's girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, told PEOPLE they were initially "super ticked" about the pile of pennies left on their drive, but that this changed when it came to cleaning them up.

"After the first shovel full, all we could do was laugh because this poor miserable man took so much time to be vindictive and cruel," Oxley said. "We absolutely refused to let him ruin a single moment of ours."

The troubles for Walker didn't stop there. His business was also found to be on the wrong side of a few key rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including retaliation, overtime, and recordkeeping. Walker was called out for failing to pay Flaten's last wages and for badmouthing him on the company's website. The court also made Walker scrub all mentions and pictures of Flaten from the company's online spaces and post the court's decision around his shop.

Following the verdict, the Department of Labor made a statement. Tremelle Howard, a regional solicitor, pointed out that workers interacting with the Department of Labor have legal protections. He also threw down a warning to employers who might think about breaking labor laws or intimidating workers. Similarly, Juan Coria, a Wage and Hour administrator, stressed that workers should be able to get their wages without any fear of being harassed or intimidated.