U.S. Labor Department Sues a North Georgia Employer After It Paid an Ex-Employee Using a ‘Mountain’ of Dirty Pennies

We all know that workers have certain rights established by Georgia law and federal law. For many workers, it’s not as simple as that. They fear that, if they invoke those rights, they will incur harm that will have a long-lasting negative effect on them and their career going forward. Do not let this fear scare you away from contacting an experienced Atlanta minimum wage and overtime lawyer and pursuing your legal options. Not only does the Fair Labor Standards Act give you certain rights regarding your pay, but it also gives you the potential opportunity to recover compensation if your employer retaliated against you for seeking the fair pay you deserve.

Many news outlets, including major ones like AP, UPI, NPR, and Fox News have sections dedicated to news that is “weird,” “odd,” or “strange.” A lot of these make for fun reading and perhaps a few laughs. Some, however, can be more educational than funny.

Take, for example, a recent peculiar story about an employment dispute that occurred right here in North Georgia. The employee, A.F., worked at an auto shop in Peachtree City. When A.F.’s employment at the shop ended, the employer did not pay him his last paycheck. Still owed $915, the worker took his complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Apparently displeased, the employer paid A.F. in cash… specifically, in 91,500+ pennies covered in oil, according to CBS News. A copy of the man’s pay stub, with an expletive scrawled on it, came with the mountain of pennies, according to a complaint filed by the Labor Department. According to that same complaint, the shop owner stated that he used the pennies to show A.F. what “a disgusting example of a human being he” was.

What the employer considered a “gotcha” for an ex-employee actually amounted to retaliation in violation of the FLSA, according to the government’s lawsuit. It’s now possible that this act may end up costing this employer a lot more than $915.

FLSA retaliation is a very serious concern for a lot of workers.¬†One subsection of the FLSA expressly forbids these kinds of retributions. Section 15(a)(3) of the Act says that no person may “discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint or instituted… any proceeding” under the FLSA, or “has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding.”

The FLSA’s Anti-Retaliation Protection is a Broad One

When the law says “discriminate,” it is prohibiting a wide array of adverse employment actions, including termination, suspension, demotion, reduction of pay, reduction of hours, reduction of benefits, etc.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that the courts have generally interpreted the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision very broadly. Obviously, filing a claim with the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is covered. However, so is sending an email to your company’s human resources staff questioning your rate of pay in relation to the minimum wage, or even just verbally complaining to your supervisor about overtime pay you believe you should have received. Anything that would clue in a reasonable employer that you have issues or concerns that relate to the minimum wage or overtime pay counts as a protected activity against which the employer may not retaliate.

Another essential thing to remember is this: you don’t have to have a winning FLSA case to have a winning retaliation case. Even if your employer’s pay practices were 100% compliant with the FLSA and you lose your FLSA claim completely, you can still win a retaliation case if you made your complaint or submitted your filing in good faith and your employer took negative action against you because of it.

If you’ve endured retaliation because you stood up for your right to receive the fair pay you deserve, don’t just take it and suffer in silence. Get in touch with the Atlanta employment retaliation attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert. Our firm has helped countless workers who’ve been harmed just like you to get what they deserve through litigation and/or settlement. Contact us through this website or at 877-986-5529 to schedule a consultation regarding your situation.

 

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