State Judge dismisses lawsuit against nail salon law

The New York State Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by two nail salon trade associations targeting the wage bond requirement in the nail salon law.
By Madina Toure

The Korean-American and Chinese nail salon associations said they would continue to explore other legal options after the New York State Supreme Court dismissed their lawsuit seeking to block the wage bond in the nail salon law.

The two groups filed the lawsuit in September on the grounds that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state of New York have been selectively enforcing a wage bond requirement that seeks to ensure workers who experience wage theft are compensated. A New York state judge dismissed the lawsuit last week.

“While we are disappointed in the court’s ruling, we continue to stand by the fact that the wage bond emergency regulations as promulgated by Gov. Cuomo’s administration, while well-intentioned, violate the letter of the law, are based on a now widely discredited news report, and are in practice unjust, jeopardize thousands of small businesses, and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers,” the trade associations said in a joint statement.

In July, Cuomo signed into law a bill, introduced by state Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), which would shut down unlicensed nail salons and grant trainee status to vulnerable unlicensed workers following a New York Times report in May on abuse in the nail salon industry. The Asian-American community thought it was unfairly singled out.

Cuomo called the decision a victory for “some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

“This administration believes in the promise of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and this requirement will ensure that nail salon workers are paid what they are legally owed,” he said in a statement. “We have come a long way in improving the lives of nail salon workers statewide—and we will continue that progress to ensure dignity and economic justice for all New Yorkers.”

Kim, who helped craft the nail salon law, said that over the last six months, said trade groups have seen a 50 percent decrease in the nail salon workforce.

Workers have either quit or been let go by businesses that have either shut down or downsized due to targeted inspections and sweeps by the state against Asian-owned salons. by the state.

He said the decision is not surprising given that it is harder to prove discrimination at the state level, , but said he was shocked that the court decision was only communicated directly to the governor’s office, which was how the groups found out about it.

Kim’s office is working with Cuomo’s office to ensure that workers and small business owners are protected.

“I think the point clearly got across to the rest of the small business community that the governor is capable of unilaterally imposing sanctions without any legislative authority and that’s something that all small business communities must be aware of,” Kim said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

More from Around New York