Wage Lawsuits Filed By New York Nail Salon Workers After Abuse Report

Following a recent report that highlighted instances of employee abuse, a class action lawsuit has been filed against several New York City nail salons that alleges employees were paid less than $60 per day in violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. 

The nail salon lawsuit were filed last week in federal court by two salon employees, Blanca Fernandez and Gloria Marca, claiming that they were paid criminally low wages, ordered to work 10 hour shifts, often without a break, and other wage and hour abuses. The complaint was filed against Nailsway, Naulo Nails, Nalismetic, and Nailscure.

The case was brought after an investigative report by the New York Times was published on May 10, which revealed dire working conditions, abuse of workers, and illegally low pay at salons across the city.

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According to the report, some nail salon workers were paid as little as $30 per day and were forced to work in environments filled with toxic chemicals without proper ventilation or safety gear.

Many of the workers are young Asian and Hispanic women, who are sometimes told they have to pay a fee to start work there and are only allowed to work for tips until employers decide they should be paid, which can take months. Many are in the country illegally, and suffer abuse at the hands of their employers, the report found.

The workers often speak little or no English, and are unaware of labor and wage laws. Some salons advertise in non-English papers for rates as low as $1.50 per hour.

As a result of the findings, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of a multi-agency Enforcement Task Force whose goal is to prevent illegal and unsafe working conditions in the state’s booming nail salon industry. In addition to shutting down illegal businesses that are not in compliance with state laws, the task force is charged with recovering unpaid wages for workers.

“We will not stand idly by as workers are deprived of their hard-earned wages and robbed of their most basic rights,” Cuomo said in a press release. “This Task Force will crack down on these kinds of abuses in the nail salon industry, enforce all of new York’s health and safety regulations, and help ensure that no one — regardless of their citizenship status or what language they speak — is illegally victimized by their employer.”

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