Televangelist Ordered To Pay $388,000 For Using His Parishioners As Slave Labor For His Buffet

Televangelist Ernest Angley and a buffet he owns in the Akron suburb to pay more than $388,000 in damages and back wages to a group of employees that the U.S. Department of Labor found worked as unpaid volunteers.

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson wrote that testimony at a trial held in October and November showed that Angley and his managers at Cathedral Buffet encouraged members of his church, Grace Cathedral, to work at the buffet without pay. The for-profit restaurant used volunteers to save money and the volunteers felt pressured to provide free labor, meaning they should have been paid for their work, Benita Pearson wrote.

“… The volunteers’ work was clearly integral to the Buffet’s operations, in that they did work that was necessary to the operation of a restaurant, such as cleaning, bussing tables, stocking the buffet, chopping vegetables, and operating the cash registers,” the judge wrote. “It is hard to fathom that a restaurant could operate without such work being completed.”

The Labor Department filed suit against the 95-year-old televangelist and the buffet in 2015 following an investigation spurred by an article in the Akron Beacon Journal. Its lawsuit said Angley and the buffet violated the Fair Labor Standards Act through its use of volunteers and did not document the volunteers’ work.