N.Y. Nails Manicurists|With $2M Wage Penalty

     (CN) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that nearly 150 nail salons in his state will pay $2 million in unpaid wages to hundreds of workers.
     In May 2015, the New York Times published a two-part series that painted the nail salon industry as rife with worker abuse through low wages and poor working conditions. The series culminated a year-long investigation into the industry, according to the newspaper.
     The stories generated discussion and spurred the state government to action, with Cuomo announcing days later he would put together a multi-agency task force to investigate all salons for abuse of workers.
     More immediately, the Department of State put in place emergency regulations that required nail salons to secure so-called wage payment surety bonds – insurance to cover claims for unpaid wages – in denominations based on the number of workers employed.
     A salon with two to five full-time employees needed a bond of at least $25,000; one with 26 or more full-time workers needed a bond of at least $125,000, according to the department’s website.
     The emergency rules later formed the basis of legislation that the governor signed into law last July. Two trade groups sued over the law in September.
     On Monday, Cuomo announced that the New York State Nail Salon Industry Enforcement Task Force has ordered 143 nail salons to pay $2 million to 652 employees for unpaid wages and related damages.
     “New York State is cracking down like never before on the unscrupulous individuals that take advantage of the hardworking people they employ,” Cuomo said in a statement. “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work is a principle that this state was built upon and this administration is committed to stopping employers who exploit workers and deny them what they are rightfully owed.”
     According to Cuomo, the task force has completed investigations into 383 nail salon businesses.
     Nail salon worker Martha Narvaez said that “the changes have been noticeable.”
     “Now we are not forced to work 13-hour days without proper hourly wages,” Narvaez said in a statement shared by Cuomo’s office. “Owners of salons cannot get away with free labor. If it’s slow, we can go home, and if it’s busy, we are happy to work more and earn more money.”

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