A Georgia man says his former boss dumped his last paycheque in his driveway as a massive pile of oil-covered pennies after allegedly withholding the money for months out of spite.
Andreas Flaten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, found the pennies in their driveway on March 12, along with a simple note on top of the pile that read “F–k you!” Oxley posted videos of the pile on her Instagram account.
“They’re covered in something,” she says in one video, after running her hand through the pennies. Her hand appears to be slick with a golden brown, oily substance after touching the coins.
“I don’t know what it is, but it smells funny.”
Flaten says the pile amounts to roughly 91,500 pennies or $915 — the sum he was still owed after quitting his job as a manager at A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks in Peachtree City, Ga., last November.
“It would be one thing if it was just pennies,” he told the New York Times. “I wish it was just pennies.”
He says the pennies appeared to be covered in some sort of automotive fluid, such as transmission fluid or oil.
Flaten says he left his job at the auto shop because of a “toxic” work environment, and that he provided the customary two weeks’ notice before his departure. He says his boss gave him a hard time about picking up his child from daycare, so he left.
Flaten alleges that his boss, Miles Walker, was upset with him for leaving, and that he withheld Flaten’s final paycheque to punish him. Flaten says he walked off the job and then pressed Walker for months to get his money, which seemingly led to the penny stunt on his driveway.
“This is a childish thing to do,” Flaten told Fox5 in Atlanta.
Walker responded angrily when CBS46 asked him if he knew anything about the pennies. (Walker was unaware he was being recorded for the news broadcast.)
“I know tons about it. What’s wrong with it?” he told the broadcaster. He then refused to say whether he was responsible for the stunt.
“I don’t know if I did that or not. I don’t really remember,” he said, before adding: “It doesn’t matter. He got paid, that’s all that matters.”
Walker did not specifically address Flaten’s allegations of a toxic workplace.
“He’s a f–king weenie for even bringing it up,” he said.
Walker later told Fox5 that he paid Flaten in U.S. currency and did not want to be part of the story.
Several other ex-employees told CBS46 that they also had issues with Walker during their time at the shop. One employee said he has seen Walker rip up people’s last paycheques “in front of their face, and tell them to get out.”
Ex-employee Cerena Wandersee, who worked at the shop for three years, alleged that Walker pulled her pants down in the lobby and mocked her.
Walker has not addressed the other employees’ allegations.
Flaten says he shovelled the greasy coins into a wheelbarrow and rolled them into his garage. He adds that it was a bit of an ordeal and the wheelbarrow actually suffered damage from the weight of the pennies.
He says he’s been systematically scrubbing each penny with soap, vinegar and water so that he can eventually cash the messy coins.
“I think that’s going to be a lot of work for money I’ve already worked for,” he told Fox5. “It’s going to be hours upon hours … to clean this money up so that it’s even able to be spent. It’s definitely not fair at all.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor told the Times that there does not appear to be anything illegal about the penny stunt.
“There is nothing in the regulations that dictates in what currency the employee must be paid.”
Oxley says she and Flaten were annoyed by the stunt, especially after they were forced to shovel the coins out of the driveway. They’re now trying to rise above the petty penny episode.
“After the first shovelful, all we could do was laugh because this poor miserable man took so much time to be vindictive and cruel,” she said. “We absolutely refused to let him ruin a single moment of ours.”
—With files from The Associated Press