Michael Faillace & Associates, a law firm in Manhattan, is coming under fire for filing lawsuits against New York City restaurants and delis over false wage violation claims.
A law firm in Manhattan is filing lawsuits against a handful of restaurants and delis in New York City over claims of wage violations. However, according to complaints from the restaurants and delis, the lawsuits are allegedly “serving up fudged work records to win money for the plaintiffs.”
In one of the cases, the law firm, Michael Faillace & Associates filed a suit on behalf of a deli grill man, Luis Antonio Ortiz, claiming the worker “had been stiffed on pay while logging 84 hours a week at the Prince Deli in Harlem in 2017 and 2018.” However, Ortiz also claimed “he worked 84 hours per week during some of the same periods at a Brooklyn deli,” according to court papers. This particular claim resulted in Ortiz winning a default judgment. In regard to the Prince Deli, its lawyer recently asked federal judge US District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos for “sanctions against the Faillace firm, complaining of a bad faith filing involving Ortiz.” The lawyer, Joshua Levin-Epstein, said:
“Our client has a meritorious defense and we hope that this case can be resolved quickly.”
Another case involved Tribeca Bagels. In that case, a former employee, who is also being represented by Faillace, “lied about his work record there, inflating how long he was on the job to win a judgment.” In 2018, US District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla found the former employee’s claim to be false and said the worker “created a timeline out of whole cloth.” She further stated:
“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.”
From there, Polk Failla ordered the worker to “forfeit the judgment and said the bagel shop’s owners and lawyers were entitled to get their costs reimbursed.”
The faulty lawsuits didn’t stop there. In fact, the Faillace firm filed two more suits on behalf of “someone who worked overlapping hours for two different pizzerias at two separate locations during the same six-month period,” according to court documents. In the end, the firm had to pay the defendants’ legal fees, and Faillace blamed his clients and said:
“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 that his firm “gets hundreds of cases a year,” largely due to the fact that he advertises his firm heavily. For years, the firm has “swamped federal court with suits under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the filings didn’t slow. Since the beginning of the year, the firm has filed more than 30 wage lawsuits in US District Court in Manhattan.