Former employees sue owners of William K’s restaurant for wage violations

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Six former employees of William K’s waterfront restaurant are suing the owners, William and Molly Koessler.

In a 22 page federal court lawsuit, the employees claim the Koessler’s failed to pay them a living wage and overtime pay.

Since 2015, the City of Buffalo invested $900,000 into the facility for William K’s restaurant. In return, the owners agreed they would have higher labor standards for their employees.

The owners had a contract with the City of Buffalo and were required to pay all workers $13.06 an hour under the Buffalo Living Wage Ordinance.

“Unfortunately the Koessler’s did not want to abide by that deal despite the fact that they signed the contract. They were cutting corners all over the place in ways that really exploited the workers that were working for them,” said attorney Nicole Hallett.

Katie Lane, a former server, says she was only getting paid $7.50 an hour.

“I didn’t even know that that was something that had been agreed upon when I was hired to work there. It wasn’t until after I had left William K’s in July of 2016 that I had been notified by the living wage commission that she had broken this contract,” said Lane.

After several ignored warnings, the city’s wage commission found the restaurant in violation of the ordinance. The commission recommended the city end its contract with the restaurant.

According to the complaint, the Koessler’s contacted the mayor to change the ordinance which was approved by the Buffalo Common Council.

“The city in this case didn’t respond in a way that protected workers. Whether you follow the law shouldn’t depend on who your connections are or who you know in the mayor’s office,” said Hallett.

Together the employees are seeking more than $100,000 dollars in back wages and penalties.

“No one is above the law, they should have to hold up their end of the bargain, so really we’re just looking for what’s owed to us,” said Lane.

News 4 reached out to the owners of William K’s restaurant for a comment, but did not hear back.

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