Church group program, restaurants close amid allegations
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montana labor officials are investigating claims filed by former Mudman workers that the religious group that owned the now-closed restaurant chain broke federal labor laws.
Montana Public Radio reports Whitefish-based Potter’s Field Ministries required them to volunteer for work they were otherwise paid for and to work more than 60 hours a week.
Potter’s Field closed its missionary program and restaurants earlier this year amid allegations that leaders exploited, abused and harassed missionary trainees.
The restaurant workers were mostly trainees and returning missionaries.
Ministry consultant Sharon DiMuro says the workers were wage-exempt interns and had agreed to work 40 hours, plus volunteer 20 additional hours per week.
MTPR reports it’s illegal for an employer to ask employees to volunteer time doing duties they’re normally paid to do.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry is investigating nine claims.