CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) — The U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced April 4 that Cathedral Buffet and its owner, televangelist Ernest Angley, have been ordered by a federal judge to pay $388,507 in back wages and damages to 235 “volunteers” who worked at the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, restaurant.
The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division opened a case against Cathedral Buffet and alleged the restaurant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime, record-keeping and other provisions.
According to allegations, Angley pressured members of his church, Grace Cathedral, to work at the restaurant without pay. This helped the for-profit restaurant save money. Northern District of Ohio District Judge Benita Pearson supported the department’s findings in written testimony.
“The buffet’s constant solicitation of volunteer labor, the company’s admission that the use of volunteer labor was intended to save money, and the volunteers’ feelings of pressure to work at the restaurant shows they were actually employees,” said George Victory, district director for the wage and hour division in Columbus. “That is unacceptable under the law. There are many instances, however, in which the use of volunteers is acceptable. Organizations with questions about compliance should contact us.”