A former church housekeeper is accusing Bishop Marvin Winans of firing her because she wasn’t tithing to his Perfecting Church in Detroit.
In 2015 and 2016, LaKaiya 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.
In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Michigan, Harris alleges that Winans demanded that she donate 10 percent of her $18,000-a-year housekeeper’s salary to the church. Winans allegedly did this during a meeting in a conference room in 2017, telling Harris “that it had come to his attention” that she earned $18,000 the year before.
‘So you owe us $1,800,’ ” Winans allegedly told Harris, the suit states. “When she stated that she didn’t have the money, he offered to deduct the $1,800 directly from her biweekly paychecks.”
Harris refused, stating she was not going to let the church deduct $1,800 from her paycheck and “complained that her job had already been threatened for not giving ‘birthday money,’ ” the suit states.
Harris said he told her, “Well, that pretty much terminates your employment with us. You can go ahead and proceed with the exit interview.”
The lawsuit also 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.
Bishop Winans and his Perfecting Church have yet to respond.