By  on July 9, 2009

NEW YORK — A group of 17 former Scoop NYC workers filed a federal lawsuit against the retailer on Wednesday, alleging labor violations such as unpaid overtime.

The ex-employees and dozens of supporters protested Wednesday outside the retailer’s SoHo store here.

The plaintiffs, all of whom were stock and security personnel from West Africa, are seeking $500,000 in back wages in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The violations allegedly took place from 2000 to 2008 in the company’s three Manhattan stores, as well as in its locations in East Hampton and Greenvale, N.Y., and Atlantic City, N.J.

The workers accused Scoop of launching an internal audit of their legal working papers and then firing seven of them for being undocumented. In addition, they charged Scoop with misclassifying the entire group as being managerial, although their duties did not involve anything that would make them exempt from getting overtime.

They also charged they routinely worked 60 hours or more a week with insufficient break time and under dirty and dangerous conditions, including inadequate ventilation, electrical hazards and extreme temperatures.

Stuart Appelbaum, president of Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, who took part in the protest, said, “Scoop’s exploitation of employees will not be tolerated.”

Scoop chief executive officer Robert J. Wichser said, “Although these allegations are against Scoop’s previous management, we’ve conducted an internal audit to insure the company is in compliance with local, state and federal wage and hour laws. Scoop’s current wage and hour practices are conducted in accordance with all state, local and federal laws.”

Stefani Greenfield, who cofounded Scoop NYC with Uzi Ben-Abraham, declined comment.

Scoop is now owned by the Yucaipa Cos. LLC, the private equity firm started by Ron Burkle in 1986, which has completed mergers and acquisitions valued at more than $30 billion, according to the company’s Web site.

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