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Nail Salon Industry in New York Reportedly Filled with Wage Violations

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New York, NYFollowing up on a report from 2015, the New York Times (2/29/16) has once again investigated the New York nail salon industry, and has found widespread wage and hour violations. Workers in the nail salon industry, The Times reports, are frequently underpaid and overworked, and at risk of serious illness linked to the chemicals they are exposed to on a daily basis. In May, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a multi-agency task force to combat wage theft and other workplace violations in New York nail salons.

According to the New York Times, workers at nail salons face low pay - as low as $30 per day for 10-hour shifts - no pay or are forced to pay salon owners a fee to work in the salons. One worker cited by The Times paid $100 per day for her first two weeks on the job, during which she worked more than 10 hours a day. Some salons did not keep proper payroll records, making it difficult for investigators to determine the extent of wage violations, and some owners allegedly retaliated against employees who spoke out.

In 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a variety of actions to combat wage theft and other violations in the nail salon industry. Among those actions was a task force designed to enforce labor laws and recover wages stolen from workers. Governor Cuomo also announced training programs to ensure nail salon workers were aware of their rights, and protections to ensure workers were offered protective equipment to lessen the risk of illness from chemical exposure.

Employee lawsuits have been filed against some nail salon owners, alleging workers were denied minimum wage and overtime pay. One lawsuit - case number 1:15-cv-03710, filed in US District Court, Southern District of New York - seeks class-action status on behalf of all employees of a salon who were paid an hourly or flat daily rate for work. Plaintiff Blanca Fernandez alleges she was paid a flat daily rate of $60 per day for 10.5 hours of work a day, which works out to well less than minimum wage, not counting overtime hours. Meanwhile, plaintiff Gloria Marca argues she was paid only $55 per day for more than 10 hours a day and was not given breaks.

Many of the workers in New York City’s nail salons are reportedly vulnerable workers from Asia and Latin America, and some salon owners allegedly exploit that vulnerability by seizing tips, denying breaks and forcing new employees to pay them.

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