Mystique Boutique is a popular SoHo women’s clothing retailer that also includes the stores: Amsterdam Boutique, Exstaza, and Madness. In 2012, over a hundred current and former retail employees of Mystique Boutique received back wages through a $950,000 wage theft settlement, obtained by the New York State Office of the Attorney General with the support of the Retail Action Project. This settlement includes funds for restitution as well as independent monitoring for ongoing compliance with wage and hour laws.
In 2009, RAP’s campaign against wage theft in SoHo spread to the Mystique Boutique chain where workers reported 66-hour weeks without receiving overtime pay, and for as little as $5.15 per hour, $2.10 below the legal minimum wage. RAP educated Mystique workers – most of them young immigrants – about their right to legal wages and helped them bring their case to the New York State Office of the Attorney General. RAP organized Mystique workers to take action in a grassroots campaign to draw attention to wage at the Mystique chain. In 2010, the chain’s owner, David Cohen was arrested through action by the NYS Attorney General and charged with criminal and civil counts that include falsifying business records, criminal retaliation, witness tampering and failure to pay wages. Many of the workers from the Mystique campaign are now RAP member leaders fighting for broader industry change.