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New Rules for New York Nail Salons

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 12, 2015 12:07 PM

Business is about maximizing profits by raising revenue and keeping costs low. But, business owners should also consider the human costs.

New York nail salons are getting a tough lesson in humanity from Governor Andrew Cuomo. The Governor recently issued an emergency order calling for rules to protect nail salon workers from wage theft and mistreatment.

Expose on Mistreatment

Just last week, The New York Times published a report on the systemic abuse of manicurists throughout the state.

Many exploited salon workers are immigrants or undocumented, making them easy victims. According to the reports, some manicurists are paid as little as $1 per hour. This is far below New York's current minimum wage of $5.65 per hour, and the future rate of $7.50 per hour, for tipped service workers.

Salon workers are also constantly surrounded by harsh chemicals that can cause miscarriages, birth defects, and a plethora of other health problems.

New York's New Rules

Under these new rules, nail salon owners will have to:

  1. Post signs detailing workers' rights in six different languages;
  2. Buy insurance to cover unpaid wage claims; and
  3. Properly ventilate stores and require workers to wear gloves;

Governor Cuomo has also put together a task force of investigators to inspect New York's thousands of nail salons for wage and safety violations. Salons that do not comply with the new rules risk being shut down.

Employers in General

While it may be tempting for business owners to keep costs down by lowering employee pay, beware. In New York, failure to pay wages according to the law is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for the second offense. You can be punished by a fine of up to $20,000 and up to one year in prison.

Wage violations in other states could cost you even more. In Massachusetts, employers must pay three times the wronged employee's damages, and federal law allows for double damages.

If you have any doubts about the compliance of your business practices, consult with an experienced local business attorney for guidance.

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