Attorney General James Recovers $175,000 in Stolen Wages for Manhattan Pizzeria Workers

Gotham Pizza Failed to Pay its Workers Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced that she has recovered $175,000 for employees of Gotham Pizza who were cheated out of their pay. Attorney General James’ investigation found that between 2016 and 2019, Gotham Pizza and its owner Michael Shamailov knowingly and intentionally failed to pay at least 10 employees proper minimum wage, overtime pay, and tips at its three locations in Manhattan.

“No matter how you slice it, fair pay is not a suggestion — it’s the law,” said Attorney General James. “For years, Gotham Pizza took advantage of its hard-working employees by failing to pay them for their work. I am proud to recover the money they have long been owed and cheated, and I will always fight to ensure New Yorkers get their fair piece of the pie.”

Gotham Pizza currently has three New York City locations: 1443 York Avenue (Upper East Side), 1667 First Avenue (Yorkville), and 144 Ninth Avenue (Chelsea).

The Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) investigation revealed that from 2016 to 2019, at least 10 employees were paid under minimum wage, between $6 to $10 per hour when they should have been paid $11 to $15. In addition, they were never paid any overtime after working more than 40 hours per week and did not receive full tips. Gotham Pizza’s actions violated the Minimum Wage Order and New York labor laws, which require all employers to pay covered employees the applicable minimum wage and any legally required overtime rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

The agreement requires Gotham Pizza to pay a total of $175,000 to the 10 workers. Gotham Pizza must also provide OAG with compliance reports containing payroll information for its employee to ensure their cooperation with the law. Additionally, OAG will conduct spot interviews with Gotham workers to confirm that wages are being consistently and properly paid. If Gotham Pizza fails to comply with the terms of the agreement or fails to provide the workers the compensation required, OAG reserves the right to bring a civil action.

The OAG's Labor Bureau enforces worker-protection laws that protect workers from wage theft and other exploitation and investigates alleged violations of minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage, and other labor laws throughout the state. If anyone has questions or believes that they have been a victim of wage theft or other labor law violations, please contact OAG at 212-416-8700 or Labor.Bureau@ag.ny.gov.

The agreement announced today marks Attorney General James’ most recent efforts to crack down on wage theft. Earlier this month, Attorney General James secured nearly $900,000 for more than 200 NYCHA construction workers who were underpaid by Lintech Electric. In March 2022, she announced agreements with two home health agencies for cheating employees out of wages and submitting false Medicaid claims. That same month, she secured an agreement with Sanford Apt. Corp (Sanford), a cooperative residential apartment building in Flushing, Queens that refused to pay its superintendents for their work.

“As the former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, I made it a priority to protect our city’s workers,” said New York City Council Member Julie Menin. “This is intolerable that Gotham Pizza has violated worker-protection laws and paid below the minimum wage. I applaud Attorney General Letitia James for being proactive in pursuing businesses that are conducting wage theft and exploitation of its workers.”

“While making sure others ate, these workers had food stolen from their own table,” said New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher. “Fortunately for all New Yorkers, we have Attorney General James making sure that wage theft and worker exploitation does not go unpunished. I’m grateful to her and everyone at the Office of the Attorney General, especially the Labor Bureau, for their incredible work on behalf of our state.”

The OAG investigation was conducted by Detective Steven Pratt of the Major Investigations Unit, under the supervision of Detective Supervisor Michael Leahy, Assistant Chief Mario Rivera, and Deputy Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. 

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jennifer S. Michael, Legal Assistant Yadira Filpo, Law Department Document Specialist Trainee Berenice Peck, and former Intern James deBoer, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Criminal Section Chief Richard Balletta and Bureau Chief Karen Cacace. The Labor Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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