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Low Wages, No Benefits Drive Manicurists to NYC Labor Lawyers

scale of justice and gavel on deskLow wages, no benefits and dangerous work environments have driven some New York City manicurists to file lawsuits against their employers. The most recent lawsuit was filed by NYC labor lawyers on behalf of two manicurists who allege four nail salons in the city violated minimum wage and overtime laws.

The lawsuits have raised concerns about working conditions in NYC salons all the way to the Governor’s office in the state.

Lawsuit alleges wage, break & overtime violations

Blanca Fernandez and Gloria Marca chose to file a proposed class action lawsuit just days ahead of a large New York Times expose that uncovered many of the iniquities occurring in nail salons throughout the city. The two manicurists filed their complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Nailsway, Naulo Nails, Nailsmetic and Nailscure, four salons on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that all have the same owners. The New York workplace discrimination lawsuit was filed on behalf of any employee or former employee of one of the salons listed. Minimum wage violations can go back six years, while claims about no overtime pay can go back three years.

The lawsuit also alleges the salons failed to provide proper food and rest breaks to employees, a claim that can go back three years. Marca and Fernandez claim that manicurists were sometimes paid as little as $60 for 10-hour shifts and are often denied any type of break during those lengthy stretches. According to the New York Times article, some manicurists are paid as little as $30 per day in salons across the city. Salons also fail to provide safe work environments by installing ventilation systems to counter the dangerous chemicals in the products used daily for manicures and pedicures.

Concerns not new in nail salon industry

Although the New York Times article brought to light many concerns in the manicure industry, these concerns are not new to the employees that have been living with difficult working conditions for many years. The year prior to the publication of their piece, the Times sent an inquiry to the New York State Labor Department regarding their enforcement record within this industry. Shortly after the inquiry was sent, the department launched a citywide investigation into nail salons that revealed 116 wage violations in 29 salons.

The workers in these salons are often afraid to complain about the wages or the working conditions. Many are undocumented immigrants who do not believe they could find work elsewhere, so they continue to work for salons that do not pay them enough to support themselves or their families. The owners of these salons are often immigrant women themselves, trying to keep their businesses afloat in an industry fraught with intense competition and pricing that has not increased much since the 1990s, according to the Times report.

NYC labor lawyers can help

No matter what the reason behind unfair treatment in the workplace, the practice is unacceptable from both a moral and a legal standpoint. At The Sanders Firm, our highly credentialed attorneys have more than four decades of experience fighting for the rights of workers in the city. The law is on the side of the victims in these cases, and can often provide mistreated employees with the compensation they deserve for the hard work they invest.

To learn more about your rights as an employee in New York City, contact the Sanders Firm at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY.


  1. New York Times, The Price of Nice Nails, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html?_r=3

  2. AM New York, NYC Nail Salon Workers File Lawsuit over Wages, http://www.amny.com/news/nyc-nail-salon-workers-file-lawsuit-over-wages-1.10436626

  3. Think Progress, Nail Salon Workers Sue Employer over Allegedly Paying $60 for 10-Hour Days, http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/05/15/3659327/nail-salon-lawsuit/

  4. New York Daily News, Nail Salon Workers File Complaint against Boss for Low Wages, Constant Spying, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/manicurists-nail-boss-wages-abuse-article-1.1740134

  5. AOL, Nail Salon Workers Allege Horrific Abuse in String of Lawsuits, http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/04/11/nail-salon-workers-allege-horrific-abuse-in-string-of-lawsuits/