Attorney Samuel Has Been Practicing in New York for the Past 20 Years
Michael: My name is Michael Samuel, and I’ve been a lawyer in New York for approximately the last 20 years or so. I’ve handled a variety of different types of cases, specifically personal injury cases, collection cases, commercial litigation cases, as well as wage and hour cases.
Attorney Samuel’s Firm Has Handled Many Wage and Hour Cases in Federal and State Court
Michael: My firm, Samuel & Stein, has been heavily engaged in a wage and hour practice for the last seven years or so, and both I and my partner handle wage and hour cases in federal court and in state court.
Attorney Samuels Firm Handles Many Cases Defending the Rights of Hourly Wage Employees
Interviewer: What made you get into the wage and hour area of law so heavily?
Michael: That’s an area of law in which I always found a strong interest. We mostly represent the plaintiffs, and we don’t like seeing the blue-collar workers or people that typically get denied overtime benefits, getting taken advantage of, so that’s why we’ve decided to take on this area of practice where we can champion their cause.
Attorney Samuel’s Clients Are Blue-Collar Workers, Not Protected by Union Benefits
Interviewer: Are a lot of those trial cases like David versus Goliath situations?
Michael: Our client base is comprised of blue collar workers that are restaurant workers, waiters, security guards, or other types of jobs, mostly blue collar. The typical defendants that we sue are restaurant owners, security companies, and other small- to medium-size businesses in and around New York and New Jersey.
Interviewer: Do you deal with any union shops? How did that affect the ability of someone to file a claim or not?
Michael: No. Typically, our plaintiffs are not in any unions because union workers generally have some type of recourse where they can go to their shop steward and file a grievance, so typically our clients are not members of any unions.
Attorney Samuel’s Firm Handles Cases for Many Restaurant Workers Who Are Underpaid by Their Employers
Interviewer: What’s the typical scenario of someone that feels like they’ve been taken advantage of and they come to you? What are the circumstances?
Michael: I would say that it runs the gamut. We’ve represented hundreds and hundreds of plaintiffs in these type of cases. I would say a general scenario is somebody comes in that works at a restaurant and will either do kitchen type work or they’ll be a waiter at the restaurant, and their employer fails to pay them properly.
Some Restaurant Workers Are Not Paid Their Share of Tips or Are Paid Less than Minimum Wage
Either the employer takes some of the tips that the waiter by law is entitled to keep or the employer fails to pay them the minimum wage according to state and federal regulations.
Restaurant Workers Who Work More than 10 Hours in a Day Are Entitled to a Spread of Hours Claim
In addition, some of our clients also have their right to something called a spread of hours claim. That is basically when a worker works more than ten hours in a day, they’re entitled to an extra hour’s pay at the state minimum wage.
Interviewer: I would imagine that a lot of the people that come to see you are probably very skittish or afraid to do it. Have you noticed that it really takes a lot of abuse or a lot of problems for someone to be willing to come forward?
At Times, Some of Attorney Samuel’s Clients Are Reluctant to Bring a Justifiable Case against Their Employer
Michael: Yes, most of our clients are nervous that if they’re still employed with the employer and they choose to bring a case, they are afraid that they’re going to suffer repercussions. There are provisions in the law that would prohibit an employer from retaliating against anybody that brings a wage and hour case under the Fair Labor Standards Act or the New York State Labor Laws.
There is some protection built in, but a lot of our workers are underprivileged workers that are afraid to bring claims. At times though, some of the people that we represent are no longer employed with the employer that they want to sue, so that alleviates some of their concern because they don’t have to worry about any type of retaliation.
Interviewer: Are most of your clients recently fired or they have just quit?
Michael: I would definitely say most of our plaintiffs are people that have recently been fired or quit due to the bad circumstances that exist at their job, so they’ll wind up quitting and then contacting us shortly afterwards and asking us to bring a claim on their behalf.