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News Brief

US Department of Labor files suit alleging restaurant classified some employees as volunteers

Investigation reveals more than $207K in back wages are owed to more than 200 workers

Type of Action: Fair Labor Standards Act Lawsuit

Name of Defendant: Cathedral Buffet Inc., and Ernest Angley, 2690 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Allegations: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that the Cuyahoga Falls restaurant and its owner, Ernest Angley, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and child labor provisions.

The violations resulted when:

  • 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 suit seeks full payment of the back wages and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages for the employees, and to permanently enjoin the employer from violating the FLSA in the future.

Quote: "Treating employees as volunteers is unacceptable under the law," said George Victory, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Columbus. "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."

Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

Docket Number: 5:15-cv-0157

Wage and Hour Division
August 21, 2015
Release Number
Media Contact: Scott Allen
Phone Number
Media Contact: Rhonda Burke
Phone Number