Firm files false wage violation lawsuits in a Manhattan court.
Manhattan law firm Michael Faillace & Associates has been targeting New York City restaurants and deli providers with wage claims. In one case, the firm filed a complaint for Luis Antonio Ortiz, who worked at a deli, alleging he was due compensation for clocking 84 hours a week at the Prince Deli in Harlem in the year-long span from 2017 to 2018. However, Ortiz also claimed he worked 84 hours per week during some of the same pay period at a Brooklyn deli, which led him to secure a default judgment.
Now, Joshua Levin-Epstein, attorney for the Prince Deli has asked federal judge U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos for sanctions against Michael Faillace & Associates for a “bad faith filing” in the case. Levin-Esptein said, “Our client has a meritorious defense, and we hope that this case can be resolved quickly.”
The law firm also submitted another suit against Tribeca Bagels, where a former unnamed employee made false wage claims about his work record there to also win a judgment, according to U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla. “The worker created a timeline out of whole cloth,” the judge stated, adding, “Whatever defects in recollection one might attribute to the passage of time, there is plainly a difference between four and one-half weeks and eight months.”
Polk Failla ordered the employee to forfeit the award and allowed Tribeca’s owners and attorneys to have their court costs reimbursed. Meanwhile, the Faillace firm also filed two wage claims on behalf of another unnamed employee who worked overlapping hours for two different pizzerias during the same period and ended up having to pay the defendants’ legal fees.
Faillace said his unintentionally clients are providing false information. “They mistakenly tell us the wrong stuff and we need to be just more careful. We do check, but sometimes people miss the boat.” He added the law firm “gets hundreds of cases a year,” making it difficult to fact-check every detail.
Faillace has filed more than thirty wage lawsuits since the first week in January 2021 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, citing the state’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets standards including a 40-hour work week, minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping procedures, and minor work requirements. Overtime is typically calculated as the hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, and companies are generally required to pay wages for time worked.
It is important to note that the FLSA does not include rights to vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay, meal or rest periods, pay raises or fringe benefits. It also does not require employers pay extra for weekend or holiday work. Some employees are exempt, but in most cases, FLSA applies to state and federal employees and FLSA overtime rights violations normally addressed via lawsuits or filing a complaint with the state or federal Department of Labor, which typically has a more time-consuming process. According to the firm’s website, Michael Faillace & Associates handles Title VII cases, FLSA cases, ADA (Title I) cases, and those involving Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workplace privacy.