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Cuomo announces emergency protections for nail salon workers

Following an investigation by the New York Times on working conditions in nail salons, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new protections for salon workers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new emergency protections for nail salon workers on Monday, following a bombshell investigation published by The New York Times last week on the working conditions of many nail salon employees.

Last week, The New York Times released a two-part investigative story that went inside the world of nail salons in New York state. The report featured interviews with dozens of nail salon workers, most of them women of Asian descent who had immigrated to the U.S. The workers spoke of long hours, poor working conditions and wages so far below the minimum wage that most manicurists can barely make ends meet. Many of the workers described being asked to pay $100 to secure a job, working unpaid for weeks until their bosses determined they were good enough to merit a wage, and then still only receiving meager wages a day. Some salons described in the story paid workers as little as $10 for a long day's work. Some workers also described experiencing health issues and miscarriages as a result of being exposed to chemicals in nail salons for long periods of time.

The new protections ordered by Cuomo go into effect immediately, and they are designed to crack down on salons and help workers secure lost wages and better working conditions. "New York State has a long history of confronting wage theft and unfair labor practices head on and today, with the formation of this new Enforcement Task Force, we are aggressively following in that tradition," Cuomo said in a statement.

"We will not stand idly by as workers are deprived of their hard-earned wages and robbed of their most basic rights. This Task Force will crack down on these kinds of abuses in the nail salon industry, enforce all of New York's health and safety regulations, and help ensure that no one -- regardless of their citizenship status or what language they speak -- is illegally victimized by their employer," he continued.

The governor's statement said that the task force will work on new health and safety regulations, mandatory postings about employee rights, assist in recovering unpaid wages, and revoking licenses of salons that don’t comply with worker regulations, among other tasks.