After three years of waiting, a group of assistant managers at Foot Locker Inc. has won class certification in a wage and hour lawsuit against the athletic goods retailer.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York certified the state collective action on Jan. 20, rejecting claims by the defendant that the employees could not prove commonality.

In their complaint, the assistant managers allege that Foot Locker violated both New York and federal labor laws by letting store managers alter employees’ time sheets to understate the number of hours they had actually worked. Moreover, the complaint alleges, the managers did this “to meet budgetary constraints concerning total payroll per store,” and “managers get penalized if they exceed those budgets.”

The plaintiffs also claim that managers have required hourly employees to work off the clock at times.

In court documents, Foot Locker denied engaging in widespread wage and hour abuses, holding that the practices alleged by the plaintiffs “would be in direct violation of Foot Locker’s longstanding time clock policies.”

“In pursuit of certification, plaintiffs urge this court to superficially conclude that widespread wage and hour abuses exist throughout Foot Locker, when after three years of discovery, this is not the evidence at all,” the defendants wrote.

As for the claims being worthy of class certification, Foot Locker further argued, ‘Plaintiffs’ are far too individual and anecdotal to warrant a statewide collective action.”

The judge disagreed.

Attorneys for Foot Locker did not return calls for comment. They include Steven Mark Berlin of the New York office of Martin Clearwater & Bell and William Martucci of the Kansas City, Mo., office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers also did not return calls. They include Laureve Daniele Blackstone and Judith Penner Broach, both of New York’s Broach & Stulberg.

Foot Locker, meanwhile, is facing more legal woes over its wage and hour practices. On Jan. 12, the retailer was hit with another putative collective action — this one seeking national certification — accusing it of denying assistant managers overtime compensation after misclassifying them. That case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Tresa Baldas can be contacted at tbaldas@alm.com.