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Ohio sues Angels Learning Centers for $1.2M over min. wage

By LISA CORNWELL, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS (AP): The state filed a $1.2 million dollar lawsuit on Sept. 4, 2009, against the operators of a chain of day care centers in what the attorney general said is the largest minimum wage case in Ohio history.

The state is accusing a business and its owners and executives of paying employees less than the minimum wage at Columbus-area daycare centers. The lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court seeks back pay totaling more than $408,000 and nearly $817,000 in damages for 150 employees of Angels Learning Centers in and around Columbus.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday for Angels Learning Centers’ owners and at the Columbus office of the company’s attorney, Mark Gutentag.

Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said Friday that his office has filed a steady stream of minimum-wage cases based on complaints it receives. It is difficult enough for minimum-wage employees to get by in the current economy without losing what they are legally entitled to receive, he said.

Ohio’s minimum wage increased from $7 per hour to $7.30 an hour on Jan. 1.

``Those violating the law also are hurting not only their employees, but also the businesses that are paying the minimum wage,'' Cordray said. ``We owe it to law-abiding businesses to make sure they aren't having to compete with businesses undercutting the law.''

State officials notified the company of the alleged violations of the state's minimum wage law in early March, following an investigation by the Ohio Department of Commerce.

On July 13, the attorney general's office sent a letter to Angels Learning Centers' attorney saying that the state would proceed with legal action if it did not receive the required payments or a satisfactory response by Aug. 13.

``They were informed, and they have not done what they are supposed to do,'' Cordray said. ``We want businesses in Ohio to know if they are going to try to cut corners, this is not one of the corners they need to be cutting,'' Cordray said.






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