Former employees file federal lawsuit against Buffalo restaurant for lost wages

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 18:11:29-05

William K's Restaurant at the Erie Basin Marina is facing a federal lawsuit after six former employees claim it withheld wages and violated federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws.

"It was such an egregious violation of what she was supposed to be doing," former server Katie Lane said.

Lane worked at William K's Restaurant for four months in 2016. While there, she was paid $7.50 per hour, plus tips. A normal wage for the service industry. But, only after leaving the job, she discovered the restaurant was supposed to be paying servers and other employees a starting wage of $13.06 per hour.

"I thought my rights were being protected," Lane said. "I didn't even know the wool had been completely pulled over my eyes by my boss."

The lawsuit was filed by six former employees with lawyers from University at Buffalo School of Law's Community Justice Clinic.

The city of Buffalo had invested $900,000 in the restaurant, starting in 2015, under an agreement it would meet higher labor standards for employees, according to the lawsuit. Part of the agreement was to meet Buffalo's Living Wage standards of $13.06 per hour, regardless of tips.

The city is not named in the lawsuit.

"There was a number of things she was not complying with the law on, the living wage being the one that caught their attention first," explained Genevieve Rados, a UB law student working the case. "It's sort of a cavalier attitude toward this living wage. A sense that it was a pain in the neck and why should she have to deal with it?"

7 Eyewitness News reached out to the owners of the restaurant. We have not heard back.

You can view the entire lawsuit below: