Updated: 3:33 PM PDT, March 26, 2021
Navigating the employee-employer relationship amid the pandemic has been challenging for some, but for one Georgia man, his ex-employer took it to an entirely new level when he received his last paycheck in pennies — 91,500 pennies, totaling the $915 in wages he claimed he was owed. The coins were dumped in a pile right at the end of his driveway.
The recipient, Andreas Flaten, the former manager at A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks, hasn’t been able to count up all the coins yet to make sure it’s the right amount, because he said the pennies are extremely greasy (and smelly, according to his girlfriend), and may be covered in some type of power-steering fluid. Flaten told The New York Times that he suspected the pennies were his punishment for quitting and his endless pursuit in getting the money that he rightly earned.
“It would be one thing if it was just pennies,” Mr. Flaten said. “I wish it was just pennies, but the pennies are covered in a pungent, sticky substance.”
Flaten’s check, aka pennies, arrived sometime around 7 p.m. on March 12. An envelope atop the mound of copper coins contained a paystub with no check. It also had the curse words “F—you” on it. For the next few hours, he and his girlfriend removed the pennies by placing them into a wheelbarrow they had and pushed it up a steep hill into his garage. Apparently, it was no easy feat, the pair said, because the weight of the pennies — estimated to be about 500 pounds — was so heavy it broke one of the wheels attached to the wheelbarrow.
Flaten’s relationship with his boss, Miles Walker, turned sour late last year. Flaten told the New York Times that Walker, the owner who was the one who hired him, did not honor his end of the agreement they had made, which was to allow Flaten to leave at 5 p.m. in order to pick up his daughter from child-care. Once the pandemic hit, the child-care facility was closing earlier and Flaten had to leave earlier than the designated time. Flaten said, “the promise evaporated.” He reportedly gave notice late last year that he was planning to quit, and then eventually left the job earlier due to the “toxic” work environment, according to the Times.
Other employees who worked for Walker allegedly had bad experiences with him too and also left, according to CBS 46.
On March 13, the day after the chunk of change arrived, Flaten’s girlfriend posted a video of the pennies on Instagram that reportedly touched a nerve with a few people, particularly those in similar work situations.
“Petty to the max,” one person wrote. “He’ll receive his karma!”
Another person wrote: “Reviews, Yelp, BBB, Facebook comments… many ways to start taking this shop down. Mechanics that are about to lose your job should start polishing up those resumes this “business” ain’t lasting.”
Apparently, the people at A Ok Walker Luxury Autoworks don’t seen to be muffled, and appear to be even busier since the story broke, according to a person who answered the phone but declined to be identified, the Times reported.
When CBS46 reporter Jamie Kennedy approached Walker about the pennies and asked him if he did or did not make the drop-off, his response was vague.
”I don’t know if I did that or not, I don’t really remember.”
“It doesn’t matter, he got paid, that’s all that matters, he’s a f*****g weenie for even bringing it up,” Walker told Kennedy.
When the Times asked the Department of Labor “if it was legal to pay an employee in dirty, grease-covered pennies,” a spokesperson replied in an email, “There is nothing in the regulations that dictate in what currency the employee must be paid.”
Flaten said that he has tried to clean the pennies with detergent, vinegar and water but the only thing he said that seems to work is cleaning them one by one.
In two-hours time, he’s garnered $5 in coins.
Looks like he has a few hundred hours to go.