Company Fires Worker "Without Reason" and Pays Her Over $1,300 Severance In Coins, Weighing 130 Pounds

Business fined for obstruction.

When employees leave a company, things don't always run smoothly. In the exit process, drama and recriminations can ensue. But a Chinese company recently took pettiness to a whole new level: They've been reprimanded by a court for paying a terminated employee's $1,400 severance entirely in coins. They weighed more than 130 pounds. Read on to find out how the court felt about that, and what happened in a similar case in the U.S. earlier this year.

1
Ex-Employee Paid Entirely in Small Change. Very Small Change

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The UK Times reports that a health management company in Changsha was ordered to repay a former employee 10,000 yuan (about $1,400) in wages and compensation after it fired her without cause and lost a dispute in an arbitration court. The head of the company, which has not been disclosed, told an employee to go to several banks and obtain 10,000 yuan in small change. A video released by state media shows officials coming to collect stacks of coins at the company earlier this month. 

2
Business Fined for Obstruction

gavel with person reviewing documents
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"It's true you've fulfilled your legal obligations, but the way you did it is not right," a court official said in the video. The court ruled that the business had committed obstruction because coins were not commonly used by the company in daily business. The passive-aggressive act of doling out the judgment in change had the "clear intention of confronting the court," the Times reported. The business was fined of 5,000 yuan (about $700).

3
Another Final Paycheck Paid in Pennies

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As extreme as this particular type of severance package may seem, a similar one was delivered in Peachtree, Georgia, last January. In 2021, Andreas Flaten, a former employee of A OK Walker Autoworks, filed a complaint with the state labor department, accusing his former boss of failing to give him his final paycheck of $915. A short time later, he found 91,000 pennies—500 pounds worth—covered in oil, piled in his driveway, with a vulgar note.

4
U.S. Government Sues Business

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That stunt didn't go over well with government officials either. MoneyWatch reported that the U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against the auto repair shop and its owner, claiming the penny drop was an act of retaliation. "Workers are entitled to receive information about their rights in the workplace and obtain the wages they earned without fear of harassment or intimidation," an agency official said in a statement

5
Report Retaliation, Victim Urges

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According to MoneyWatch, the auto body shop posted a statement on its website titled "Pennies," which read, in part, "There were exactly 100,003 pennies, 750 dimes, 2 quarters, a nickel, and his pay stub in the pile. That is a lot more than what we were legally obligated to give him. Why so much more? We figured that he would have had enough intelligence to just have the pennies counted and exchanged." The post was later removed. Flaten encouraged other employees who had been mistreated to speak out. "They definitely should not be scared to reach out," he told Business Insider. "Speak up. Don't be quiet about it. Because if you're quiet about it, it's just going to continue to happen to you and everybody else." The government's suit is still pending. 

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is an experienced writer and editor in New York City. He specializes in helping people make life-improving decisions on their health, nutrition, finances, and lifestyle. Read more
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