Cary Kane LLP, the law firm representing the fired workers, estimated that the upscale retail chain owes employees more than $300,000 in unpaid overtime wages and $200,000 in lost earnings since they were terminated.
The lawsuit states that former stock and security employees who worked at store locations in New York and New Jersey regularly worked 50 to 60 hours a week but did not receive overtime pay. According to workers, while they were promoted to managerial positions, they were ineligible for overtime pay because they were given a fixed salary instead of hourly wages.
“They used me,” said former employee Georges Epoh, a Cameroonian immigrant. “That was just a name, to say I was a manager.”
Workers also complained of infrequent breaks and unsafe working conditions, such as loose wires and stockrooms without insulation.
Most plaintiffs in the lawsuit are West African immigrants. According to Retail Action Project (RAP), which helped the workers find legal representation, Scoop NYC fired seven of these immigrant workers without warning in late 2008, claiming they were undocumented, even though they had valid documents.
“What happened to the Scoop NYC workers happened because they were immigrants,” said RAP coordinator Carrie Gleason. “This is an issue that affects every resident throughout the city.”