Volume 76, Number 9 | July 19 - 25, 2006

Members of GOLES’s Retail Action Project protested unfair and unsafe labor conditions at Yellow Rat Bastard in Soho.

Yellow Rat Bastard said to exploit staff, have rats

By David Spett
A Soho clothing store and its eight affiliates are under fire from the economic justice group GOLES, Good Old Lower East Side, Inc., which is accusing the store of violating state labor laws.
Carrie Gleason, a representative of GOLES’ Retail Action Project, said nine New York City stores owned by Henry Ishay, including Yellow Rat Bastard at 478 Broadway, are exploiting African immigrant workers. GOLES said the stores may owe $1.5 million in back wages.
Until recently, the workers’ starting wage was only $5.25 per hour, Gleason said. The New York State minimum wage is $6.75 per hour.
“Having a store like this operate in Soho is pretty astounding,” she said. “If one business can get away with $5.25, it shows other businesses that they can do the same.”
Gleason said management has harassed workers, may have sexually harassed workers and has forced them to work overtime without additional pay. She also said that Yellow Rat Bastard’s Broadway store is infested with decaying rats.
“We demand that all retail workers be treated with dignity and respect, and that a living wage, benefits and a decent working environment become reality for the employees of Mr. Ishay and all retail workers in Lower Manhattan,” Councilmember Rosie Mendez said in a press release.
Juanita Scarlett, a spokesperson for State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, confirmed that an investigation of Yellow Rat Bastard is underway but declined to comment further.
A Yellow Rat Bastard manager did not return calls requesting comment.
Yellow Rat Bastard’s sister stores, according to Gleason, include Antique Orange, 364 Broadway; FAT Jeans, 648 Broadway; Rubber Sole, 740 Broadway; Sloppy Joe Dirty Jane, 483 Broadway; Tempo, 736 Broadway; Yellow Rat Bastard, Queens Center Mall; and Yellow Rat Bastard, Cedarhurst, N.Y.

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