Friday, March 31, 2017

WIRTW #455 (the “God’s not in the restaurant biz” edition)

Two years ago I reported on a lawsuit the DOL filed against Akron, Ohio, televangelist Ernest Angley, alleging he employed unpaid volunteers in his church’s for-profit buffet restaurant. The judgment is in, and it’s not good news for Mr. Angley. U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson, in a scathing opinion [pdf], has ordered him and his church to pay employees more than $388,000 in damages (half for unpaid wages and half for liquidated damages).
Reverend Angley would suggest that Church members had an obligation to provide their labor to the Buffet, in service to God, and that a failure to offer their labor to the Buffet … would be the same as failing God. … Reverend Angley would thus coerce Church members into agreeing to volunteer at the Buffet. …  Reverend Angley thus used “scare tactics/bullying” and made “people feel bad” for not working at the Buffet. … Reverend Angley preached that he was God’s prophet, and saying “no” to Angley would be tantamount to saying “no” directly to God. … Reverend Angley also preached that repeatedly saying “no” to God or failing God ultimately leads to a person “blaspheming against the Holy Ghost,” which meant that the individual’s connection to God has been lost and was irredeemable. … 
The Buffet is a commercial, for-profit institution in competition with a number of other commercial eateries in its immediate vicinity. … Defendants stress the alleged religious purpose served by the Buffet and its ability to provide low-cost meals. … But they undoubtedly achieve those low prices, at least in part, by circumventing wage laws and maintaining a workforce that is largely unpaid. … Indeed, Reverend Angley admitted that the Buffet reverted to using volunteers as a cost-saving measure. … 
Seems like the correct result to me.

Here’s what else I read this week:



HR & Employee Relations

Wage & Hour


OSHA & Safety