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Former Steve & Barry’s employees file federal lawsuit

9:44 PM EST, November 19, 2008

A group of Steve & Barry’s employees who were laid off Monday is suing the owners of the Port Washington retailer because they should have been given advance notice as required by federal law, the employees said.

Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, a company planning a mass layoff or plant closing must let their workers know at least 60 days in advance.

The class-action suit was filed Tuesday by former employee Michael Guippone of Manhattan against BH S & B Holdings and the two investment firms behind it, Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management, in U.S. federal court in Manhattan.

His attorney, Jack Raisner of Manhattan, said, “The employees were terminated without advance prior notice, which is required under the WARN Act.” The former workers are “entitled to 60 days of wages and benefits, and that’s what the class claim is seeking.”

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Guippone worked at the company’s Port Washington headquarters. The suit claims that at least 250 employees from throughout the company were terminated Monday.

It was unclear whether the new owners of Steve & Barry’s would claim the exemption of “unforeseeable business circumstances,” but many companies seek to take advantage of it, Raisner said. His firm, Raisner Roupinian LLP, has filed similar suits against Lehman Bros. Holding Co. and American Home Mortgage.

Neither Bay Harbour or York Capital, both based in Manhattan, immediately returned calls for comment Wednesday.

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