Pennies from Heaven . . . Or Not. Can an Employee be Paid in Pennies?
Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Money is money as some people say, but does that mean that an employer can pay people in pennies? Well, according to the New York Times, that is exactly what the owner of A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks in Peachtree City, Ga did. According to the report, a former employee of A OK demanded his final paycheck and when it was not received, he filed a claim with the Department of Labor. It was determined that A OK owed the employee a total of $915 in wages owed. The owner dug deep into his piggy bank and pulled out 91,500 pennies, which he allegedly deposited in the former employee's driveway. According to the report, the pennies were covered with a "pungent, sticky substance."After the employee's girlfriend posted about the situation on Instagram, Coinstar decided to collect the pennies and provided the former employee with a $1,000 check.
According to the Department of Labor, there are no regulations dictating what type of currency must be used to pay an employee. Thus, the the owner of A OK was within his legal rights to pay his former employee in pennies, but was it the right thing to do?
Let's first look out the genesis of the situation involving A OK. According to New York Times, the employee decided to give his boss notice that he was quitting and then sue to certain circumstances, walked off the job sooner than planned. After he left he requested payment of wages owed. After a month of unanswered requests to his former employer, the former employee filed a claim with the Department of Labor.
In general, it is always best to comply with the law right off the bat and to make the least amount of waves as possible when parting ways with an employee. There are many reasons why employers and their employees part ways. However, no matter what the reason, it is generally better for the employer to pay out any unpaid wages as soon as possible.
In A Ok's case, the employee walked off the job before scheduled. While this may been upsetting, the best course of action would have been to mail the former employee his final paycheck shortly after walked off the job.
Wage and hour laws, should not be toyed with when it comes to paying former employees. A business is almost always better off paying out any wages owed and then determining if it has any legal claims against the former employee.
When dealing with employee issues, an employer should never let spite get in the way as it typically leads to employment claims, lawsuits, and negative publicity. According to the Times, A OK claims that the incident has resulted in more publicity for the shop, however, one could argue that it is not the type of publicity that most businesses would welcome. So, as for the decision to drop hundreds of pounds of pennies at the end of the former employee's driveway, you be the judge.
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