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Holy Wage Theft! Televangelist Sued for Child Labor, Minimum Wage Violations

Their wages do not runneth over.

Their wages do not runneth over.

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The Department of Labor (DOL) has charged televangelist Ernest Angley with various violations of the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) after an investigation of his Cathedral Buffet in the Akron suburb of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  According to the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division Angley paid his employees illegally low wages and engaged in “oppressive child labor.”  Over 200 employees were paid less than the minimum wage while dining room attendants ages 14 and 15 worked in violation of restricted hours for minors.  Children cannot work more than three hours on a school day, work past 7 p.m. or work more than eight hours on a non-school day.

The violations include:

• Defendants improperly treated certain workers as “volunteers” and paid them no wages. These “volunteers” worked in the buffet restaurant cooking, cleaning, waiting on tables, stocking and maintaining the buffet line, and as cashiers.
• Two dining room attendants, aged 14 and 15, worked in violation of the restricted hours for minors.
• Defendants also paid four managers weekly salaries that were too low to meet the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour, and did not pay overtime after 40 hours. The employer incorrectly categorized these managers as exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirement of the FLSA, though they did not meet the criteria. The managers are due a total of $8,684 in back wages for overtime violations.
• 239 employees, including four of the managers, did not earn the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and are due a total of $207,975 in back wages.
• The employer failed to maintain accurate records.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court in Ohio. The lawsuit seeks $207,974 in back wages and an equal amount in damages. It is also asking for an injunction to bar Angley and the buffet from further violating labor laws. Representatives of the Cathedral Buffet have refused to comment. 

George Victory, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Columbus, said in a press release:

“Treating employees as volunteers is unacceptable under the law.  This lawsuit demonstrates the Wage and Hour Division’s commitment to using every enforcement tool at our disposal to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and a level playing field for all employers.”


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