Shoe Mania, Mystique Workers Rally for Wages

About 50 retail workers and organizers and their supporters rallied in NoHo late Wednesday afternoon to decry alleged unfair labor practices at Manhattan retailers Shoe Mania and Mystique Boutique.

The group assembled in front of Shoe Mania’s store on at 654 Broadway shortly after 5 p.m. following a short march. Employees and labor activists accused the retailers of “wage theft” for violating overtime and minimum wage requirements.

Shoe Mania is currently a defendant in three ongoing collective-action labor lawsuits brought in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The suits, filed between 2008 and 2009, count more than 100 current and former Shoe Mania employees as plaintiffs.

In one complaint, employees accused the footwear retailer of requiring them to put in as many as 66 hours a week while they “frequently were paid for significantly less than 40 hours per week.” The workers also accuse Shoe Mania of failing to pay promised commission rates. Their attorneys wrote that the retailer “only paid plaintiffs certain commission amounts, but at rates much lower than what they were initially told and at hourly rates below minimum wage.”

The workers are seeking unpaid wages and $3 million in damages, according to the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, which organized the rally.

Shoe Mania did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Representatives for the union said that employees of Mystique had made similar allegations against it and its sister stores to the New York Attorney General’s office. A spokesman for the office said that it is aware of the matter. 

An employee who answered the phone at Mystique on Wednesday said the store’s owner was unavailable and declined to comment on the allegations.

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