BUFFALO, NY – The operators of a restaurant which the city spent $900,000 to open on the waterfront are being sued by several former employees who claim they were not paid a required living wage.
The federal court lawsuit, filed on behalf of the six plaintiffs by the Community Justice Clinic at the University at Buffalo School of Law, seeks back wages and sanctions against restaurant operators Molly and William Koessler.
The Koessler’s opened William K’s in late 2015, after the city provided funding to convert a portion of the Hatch Restaurant into a more upscale dining establishment.
Under the terms of the contract, the city owns the building, and leases it to Koessler's in exchange for 12 percent of the gross food sales, and 15 percent of the gross sales of alcohol.
However, as part of the deal the Koessler’s were also required to pay employees of living wage of $11.63 per hour (if they provided health insurance) or $13.06 per hour if they did not provide coverage.
The employees allege that in some cases they were being paid only about half of the required amount because the Koessler’s were including their tips into their wages, a practice which the city’s Living Wage Commission admonished as being illegal in a report issued on December 15, 2016.
As of Tuesday evening we were unable to reach the Koessler’s for comment.