Nail Salon Workers File Federal Class Action Against Manhattan Employers

Two manicurists who worked at salons in Manhattan’s Upper East Side sued their employers for numerous labor law violations relating to the manner in which they were paid, Fortune reported. The workers, in their lawsuit, accused the employers of paying sub-minimum wages and not paying overtime, among other violations. The claims allege a pattern that went on for more than half a decade.

One of the manicurists, Blanca Fernandez, worked for a chain of nail salons located on First Avenue in the Upper East Side from 2007 to 2013. During that time, the employer paid the manicurist $60 per day for her work. Fernandez’s work days usually lasted around 10 and one-half hours. In other words, Fernandez received only around $5.70 per hour for her work, even though the applicable minimum wage in New York from 2007 to 2013 ranged between $7.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour.

For Gloria Marca, another manicurist working for the same group of salons, the pay was even worse. During her employment in 2014, she received only $55 per day. Like Fernandez, her work days ran 10 and one-half hours. Translation:  her hourly wage equivalent was just below $5.25 per hour. The minimum wage in New York in 2014 was $8.00. Additionally, the workers contended that their employer did not pay them overtime and did not provide them with the 30-minute meal break that the law requires. The employer also allegedly engaged in illegal conduct regarding tips the workers received.

In their lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the two workers allege that they were not the only victims of the employer’s violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The class action would cover not just manicurists, but also technicians, estheticians, masseuses, and beauticians whom the employer allegedly illegally underpaid across a period of six years.

New rules enacted to protect workers

Fernandez and Marca’s lawsuit comes on the heels of a New York Times expose highlighting what it described as “the rampant exploitation of those who toil in the industry.” The Times article pointed out that, in a recent investigatory sweep by the New York Labor Department, the state discovered 116 labor law violations within only 29 salons.

In May, the state also created new rules governing nail salons. The rules state that employers must require their workers to wear gloves and masks to protect them from harmful chemicals. The rules also force salons to post signs notifying workers of their rights and of practices that are in violation of the law, like working without wages or paying money for a job, which occurs frequently in the nail salon industry. The signs will be in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and three other languages.

The New York minimum wage attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent the rights of workers in the New York City area in claims involving failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, and other labor law violations. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys about your minimum wage or overtime case, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

More blog posts:

Attorney Possibly Entitled to Overtime Pay if Work Was ‘Devoid of Legal Judgment’, New York Employment Attorney Blog, Aug. 12, 2015

New York Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Harassment by Makeup Artist at Upscale Manhattan Department Store, New York Employment Attorney Blog, Dec. 3, 2014

Contact Information