DETROIT - A housekeeper for the Winans is taking the family to federal court on accusations that she was forced to donate 10 percent of her salary to the family's Perfecting Church in Detroit.
The lawsuit against Perfecting Church was filed by LaKaiya Harris, whose entire life was intertwined with the church. She claims it became too close for comfort and too expensive, which led to her firing.
In 2015 and 2016, Harris worked as a housekeeper at the Marvin L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts, and then at Perfecting Church.
Harris lived in the church home on Nottingham Road in Detroit. She claims church officials charged her $500 a month to live there and improperly profited from the relationship.
Harris said she only made $18,000 a year and the church expected her to pay utilities, including the cost of the burglar alarm, which was $250.
In the lawsuit, Harris says she had no extra spending money, and when the church came looking for more money, she said she refused to pay.
The lawsuit says church officials manipulated time clock records to avoid paying Harris for overtime. It also says the church had an unlawful time docking policy for late arrivals.
The church is accused of deducting annual "kitchen dues" for using a church kitchen and ordered kickback wages, essentially requiring employees to contribute money to gifts for church supervisors.
Harris said Cynthia Flowers-Williams, a church administrator, told her, "I know you have $10 floating around in your little world. You just don't want to give it up. Everybody has to give this." Harris said that, during the conversation, she was threatened with being fired.
When Marvin Winans, a pastor at the church, discovered she wasn't tithing, Harris said he told her, "Well, that pretty much terminates your employment with us. You can go ahead and proceed with the exit interview."
Local 4 made a number of calls to Winans for a response to the lawsuit. He wasn't in, and there's no indication he's been served the suit.
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