Mayor de Blasio is going to do something about the widespread labor abuses and hazardous conditions in New York City's nail salons. “Every New Yorker must be protected from predatory workplace practices that threaten their health and exploit their labor,” de Blasio said in a release. "We will use all available powers to shield nail salon workers from deplorable conditions, empower them with awareness of their rights, and offer every other support we can to ensure the safety and dignity of our hardworking fellow New Yorkers.”
De Blasio has directed the Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure that all job placement agencies put workers in salons that pay at least minimum wage, and investigate the products and chemicals used in nail salons. The mayor also wants to ensure that the salons are abiding by the City's paid sick leave laws.
The release acknowledges that the City "has limited jurisdiction over labor and wage laws," but states that the mayor was forced to act given the "disturbing conditions in nail salons uncovered by a recent New York Times investigation."
The Times' 13-month investigation found that many nail salon workers earn just a few dollars a day in an industry that openly exploits immigrant labor. In addition to paying illegal wages, the salons also expose employees to poisonous chemicals that have been linked to miscarriages, lung cancer, and other forms of disease.
In addition to the enforcement actions, the City has deemed next Thursday, May 21, as a "Day of Action."
500 volunteers and City representatives, including the Commissioners of DCA, MOIA and SBS, and other officials, will spread out across the five boroughs to distribute information in multiple languages about workers’ rights, the City’s training and job connection programs, employer obligations and business support services, and consumer tips.
The City's actions come several days after Governor Cuomo announced the formation of an emergency task for to investigate the abuses in nail salons.
“Too often, immigrant workers face exploitation in a broad range of industries, including nail salons,” Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal said in a release. “We are committed to addressing the violation of workers’ rights and supporting the workforce development of immigrant New Yorkers.”