Manhattan clothing manufacturer Liberty Apparel has been accused of allowing a factory owner to submit workers to unfair conditions and wages.

The 26 workers from the Chinatown factory who staged a protest in front of the company's offices said that they worked for 15 hours a day and received meagre wages.

Ling Nan Zheng, lead plaintiff in a suit filed against Liberty, said that the owner owes them around $200,000 worth of wages.

The workers argue that Liberty is using a subcontracting system to circumvent laws governing working conditions and wages. Employees previously sued Liberty in 2001, and are now awaiting verdict on their recent appeal.

Legal advisors have predicted that the case may have far-reaching implications for companies whose contractors violate laws on working conditions and pay.