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New York Pizza Shops Allegedly Pay Less than Minimum Wage

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No matter which way you slice the pie, minimum wage in NY is $15 per hour and not $10 per hour, according to La Rustica Pizza

New York, NYA former pizzeria employee has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the owner of two New York pizza shops, alleging he was paid below minimum wage and was not paid overtime. The complaint claims that an “illegal” tip credit was used to justify being paid no more than $10 per hour. The complaint, which was filed late August in New York federal court, alleges both restaurants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York Labor Law and the New York State Wage Theft Prevention Act.

Plaintiff Jonathan Amores claims in his lawsuit that he often worked more than 40 hours per week and sometimes 13-hour days without overtime pay. In March 2022, he began working at La Rustica Pizza and in June 2023 transferred to La Vista Pizza until he was fired in August. Amores said he was never paid more than $10 per hour.  Amores says that he and his former co-workers spent over 20 percent of their work day performing “non-tipped” work, such as food preparation and washing dishes. Law360 pointed out that, under New York law, even if defendants were entitled to take a 'tip credit' which they were not, plaintiff and other similarly situated employees were still paid well below minimum wage.

Mohamed El Gamassy, owner of both restaurants, is also accused of “willfully disregarding and purposefully evaded record keeping requirements of the New York Labor Law by failing to maintain accurate and complete timesheets, wage notices, and payroll records.”  Amores says he never received formal written information regarding his wages or wage statement. Rather, he was paid $10 per hour through Zelle electronic bank transfers. As for Amores’ termination last month, El Gamassy says there is video evidence of a physical altercation with another employee. However, Amores’ attorney said his client was never given a reason and he was simply told not come back one day.

El Gamassy told Law360 that he was "shocked" upon learning of the lawsuit. El Gamassy’s version, and justification, is that he tried to help Amores because his wife was pregnant; that he gave Amores pay advances and transferred him to La Vista Pizza after the manager at La Rustica Pizza fired him. He further told Law360 that Amores was paid by Zelle, but only because Amores wasn’t able to provide information to set up direct deposit payments. El Gamassy also said he emailed Amores with a breakdown of wages -- $16 per hour plus tips.

The case is Jonathan Zamora Amores et al. v. Gamham NY Corp. et al., case number 1:23-cv-07615, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


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