ATLANTA — The owner of an auto repair shop in Peachtree City has to fork over $39,000 in backpay and damages after paying an employee their final wages in oil-covered pennies, according to a judge.
It's a retaliation case that Judge Timothy C. Batten of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Newnan Division, resolved with a consent judgment and permanent injunction.
The issue first arose via a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor alleging retaliation against a former employee at A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks.
An investigation by the department found that the employer retaliated against a former employee who contacted officials after they didn't receive their final wages, according to a Department of Labor news release.
Investigators learned the employer later paid the former employee $915, their final wages, by delivering 91,500 oil-covered pennies. The pennies were accompanied by a pay stub marked with an expletive to the worker's home, according to investigators.
“Workers are entitled to obtain the wages they earned without fear of harassment or intimidation,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta in a news release.
The employer also blasted defamatory statements about the employee on the company's website, investigators said.
The court ordered the auto shop operator to pay $39,934, representing back wages owed and an equal amount in liquidated damages, to nine workers.
“Employers who mistakenly believe they can willfully violate labor laws at the expense of employees and competitors must understand that we will do everything within our rights to bring them to justice," U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta said in a news release.