Two Santas and several of their helpers probably would like to give a ton of coal to the Ohio company that failed to pay them $1,500 for working in four Buffalo-area shopping malls last year.
But the company and the people who ran it have disappeared along with last year's snow.
The state Labor Department Wednesday ordered the company, Ciresi and Associates, to pay $4,891 in back wages and interest to 16 people who portrayed Santa or his helpers at seven upstate malls last year. The company also must pay an $850 fine, the agency said.
But, so far, the Labor Department can't find anyone at the firm, which listed an address in Newbury, Ohio. The telephone company said it had no phone listed for that address, and the Labor Department says it is seeking help from state officials in Ohio to locate the company's officers.
Eight Buffalo-area residents are owed $25 to $375 in unpaid wages and interest. Two portrayed Santa Claus, while the other six were elves, operating cameras or a train ride. They worked in Summit Park Mall in Wheatfield, Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence, McKinley Mall in the Town of Hamburg and Seneca Mall in West Seneca. One of them is Noelle Schmitt, who was the manager in charge of Santa and the photographers at the McKinley Mall last Christmas season.
"They owe my daughter Noelle about $375," said her mother, Karen Schwanekamp of Hamburg. "She was very disappointed, and I felt bad for her. They also owe me $25 or $30 for helping them take pictures of the children with Santa. We were told they filed Chapter 11 (in Bankruptcy Court) and reopened with a new name."