New York State Nail Salons Come Under Fire For Worker Abuses

Courtesy of Freedigitalimages.net
Courtesy of Freedigitalimages.net

May 21, 2015– On a daily basis, women, and often men, across the City of New York patronize one of 2,000 nail salons in order to treat themselves to grooming at the hands of professional manicurists. The customers, often financially middle and upper class individuals, shell out significant fees for these periodic treatments in luxurious salons by industrious workers skilled at the art of beautifying their clients’ nails through the art of manicure and pedicure. Despite the, sometimes, exorbitant fees paid New York City residents for this service, a recent study has revealed that many of the workers performing the pricey services have been subject to extreme wage and hour abuses at the hands of their employers.

According to a NY Times survey of 150 nail salons in NYC, “a vast majority of workers are paid below minimum wage; sometimes they are not even paid. Workers endure all manner of humiliation, including having their tips docked as punishment for minor transgressions, constant video monitoring by owners, even physical abuse.”

In addition to wage related employment abuses recent studies have revealed that salon workers are exposed to various, toxic chemicals associated with the trade without the benefit of proper training, proper safety equipment, sufficient ventilation, or a proper understanding of the hazards they are exposed to.

New York State, and New York City in particular, has the highest per capita of the, over, 17,000 nail salons found throughout the United States. With the high cost of living in New York, the $1.50 per hour that is estimated to be the prevailing wage, including tips, for these workers is far below any established poverty line anywhere in the country.

These abuses seem to disproportionately impact the immigrant population in New York City because it is immigrants that fill the majority of these positions. The two largest groups impacted are Asian and Hispanic immigrants. Many of these workers, despite being the subject of gross employment abuses fear recrimination or unemployment as retribution for hiring employment law firms to present their grievances.

So what does the future hold for these oppressed salon workers?  Is there a roadmap to relief from the onslaught of abuses they sustain daily?  The Salon industry does not seem poised to make meaningful changes on its own.  State Salon Licensing Boards and Government Agencies are currently overwhelmed with large caseloads offering no relief for these hard working employees.  The one thing that is certain is that until someone does more than just study the conditions for this large group of workers their lives will not improve.

Pregnant Workers Win Supreme Court Victory

Young Woman Pregnant Sitting On Arm Chairs In Home Living Room W Stock Photo Photo by khunaspix.  Image ID: 100253535
Young Woman Pregnant Sitting On Arm Chairs In Home Living Room
Photo by khunaspix.
Image ID: 100253535

March 26, 2015– WASHINGTON — In a victory for pregnant women in the workplace, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a worker who sued shipping giant UPS for pregnancy discrimination, sending her lawsuit back to a lower court where she had previously lost.

The case, Young v. United Parcel Service, hinged on whether or not UPS was justified in putting Peggy Young on unpaid leave after she became pregnant, even though other workers were commonly offered “light duty” for on-the-job injuries or to satisfy requirements under the American with Disabilities Act. The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of keeping Young’s lawsuit alive, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joining the traditionally liberal members of the court….

(Reposted from The Huffington Post 3/25/2015)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/supreme-court-ups-pregancy_n_6940752.html?1427304988

New York Food Workers Guaranteed Increased Wages

Photo by stockimages.  Stock Photo - Image ID: 100105597
Photo by stockimages.
Stock Photo – Image ID: 100105597

February 26, 2014- On February 24, 2015 the Acting Commissioner of New York State’s Department of Labor, Mario J. Musolino, announced the passage of certain dramatic wage changes which were, previously, proposed, studied, and debated for four months by the 2014 Hospitality Wage Board regarding the wages of tipped workers in the food and hospitality industries.  The direct impact of these changes is to increase the mandated, guaranteed wages for tipped food and hospitality workers.

Classically, workers in New York State that have relied, primarily, on tips for their compensation have been relegated to sub-minimum wages. Food and hospitality industry workers have relied on the benefit of the generosity of customer’s tips to offset the shortfall between their wage and the New York State Minimum guaranteed wage for all other workers.

Effective December 15, 2015 the NYS guaranteed cash wage for tipped workers in food and hospitality will be $7.50 per hour. This is the first such increase since 2011 when the standard for these workers became $5.65 per hour.

For New York City tipped food and hospitality workers the change allows for a $1 differential, or $8.50 per hour. This differential runs parallel to Governor Cuomo’s initiative to allow for a similar differential in the base minimum wage for all other New York City workers as compared the rest of New York State.

The Commissioner also committed to commence a study which examines the impact of the complete elimination of cash wages and tip credits in the food and hospitality industry in New York State.  The result of that study are expected later this year.

While the obvious impact of the measures are to increase the wages of tipped workers in New York State and New York City the ultimate true impact is not yet known. Currently, some food and hospitality spokespeople have indicated that the industry, in response to the Commissioner’s initiative, is examining a voluntary elimination of tipping for workers and the imposition of a service fee on all checks to consumers while transitioning workers to the State guaranteed minimum wage for all other workers.

Neil H. Greenberg, Esq. Featured in the News

October 9, 2014– Neil H. Greenberg, Esq., was featured in a series of News Stories regarding the firm’s representation of certain Defendants in a high profile, Federal, Employment matter being litigated in New York State.  The below intro and link is from the Southampton Press coverage of the ongoing matter:

 

Water Mill Couple To Go To Trial After Judge Refuses To Dismiss Forced Labor Allegations

Publication: The Southampton Press

By Erin McKinley Oct 3, 2014 4:27 PM 

Oct 8, 2014 10:10 AM

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a case against a Water Mill couple in which a former employee claims the pair forced her into indentured servitude between 2005 and 2008.

The suit, which will now be the subject of a trial, was filed by Ni Ketut Sulastri of Bali, who now resides in North Sea, in July 2012. She alleges that she had been hired, through an intermediary in Bali, by Lawrence and Rose Halsey to work for the Halseys’ children’s shoe-making business, Coastal Projection Corporation. She said she was promised a stipend of $450 per month, a 9-to-5 workday, room and board, and help with obtaining lawful permanent resident status…..

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Water-Mill/82334/Water-Mill-Couple-To-Go-To-Trial-After-Judge-Refuses-To-Dismiss-Forced-Labor-Allegations

NYC Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect

July 30, 2014– In April of this year New York City’s Mayor signed the “Paid Sick Leave Act” into law.  This law impacts all existing, and new NYC workers, employed after May 1, 2014.  Below are some of the highlights of the law:

What is the Purpose of the Act?

The act provides Sick Leave for all employees in New York City, employed on or after May 1, 2014.

Who is Covered?

  • The act covers all companies in New York City,  employing 5 people, or more.
  • Both Full and Part time employees are eligible, so long as they work a total of 80 hours in one calendar year.
  • In the case of domestic workers there is no “5 employee” requirement to obtain coverage.

What is required of Employers Under the Act?

  • Employers with 5 employees, or more, must provide PAID sick leave to covered employees.
  • Employers with less than 5 employees must allow employees to access the same sick leave time as their larger counterparts; however, these small employers are not required to pay employees for the sick time.

Continue reading “NYC Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect”

State Audit Reveals Pitfalls To Employment Case Resolution

If you are a worker seeking justice in an employment dispute you may be wondering whether you need an attorney concentrating in the Employment Law area to assist you with your claim.  After all, you can file your claim yourself with the appropriate Administrative Agency and hope for a favorable resolution.  Many workers are lead to believe that the simple filing of a claim with an agency, such as the Department of Labor, will protect their legal rights in these matters.

Continue reading “State Audit Reveals Pitfalls To Employment Case Resolution”

Interesting Fact: How Your Financial Struggles Can Hurt You Even More Than You Thought

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Chances are you or a family member has been affected by the recent financial crisis.  Whether you were laid off, couldn’t find a job, or made late payments on your car bill, you shared such experiences with many other Americans. So what if you finally landed the interview of your dreams- just to be told that, although you are highly qualified for the job, your past late payments to Cadillac while you were unemployed make you an unacceptable candidate.

Over the past few years, many employers have begun to use credit checks as a way of evaluating job applicants.  As many of you probably know, credit checks were designed to predict the probability of a loan applicant defaulting on a payment, not to gauge the ability of a job candidate.  We all expect to have our credit checked when applying for a mortgage or a credit card- but a job?! This process allows an employer to obtain private financial and personal information of candidates. Of course, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), an employer needs to have the candidate’s permission before requesting the credit report.  But, this is hardly any sort of protection, because an employer can simply refuse to even consider an applicant if they say no.

Continue reading “Interesting Fact: How Your Financial Struggles Can Hurt You Even More Than You Thought”