Two Queens salons that were in violation of state labor laws agreed to a settlement that includes paying their workers the required wages, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced last week.
Tatyana Enterprises Inc., a hair salon in Jackson Heights, will pay $40,000 to eight employees who were fired after they refused to sign bogus agreements misstating the terms of their employment, Schneiderman said Friday.
Bliss Nail Salon, in Sunnyside, will pay more than $5,000 to a manicurist who was told she would have to pay a deposit to work there and that she was not entitled to minimum wage and overtime because she was a trainee, according to the AG.
“All New York businesses must pay legally-required wages to employees and respect their workers’ basic rights,” Schneiderman said in announcing the settlement. “The state grants a license to salon owners in order for them to operate and they, like all business owners, must take the appropiate steps to follow our state’s labor laws.”
A lawsuit was filed against Tatyana Enterprises and its owner, Tatyana Muratov, by the Attorney General’s Office on Feb. 27 in state Supreme Court in Queens, alleging violations of numerous labor laws. The settlement comes as the Attorney General’s Office had obtained a judicial order stopping any proceeds from a planned sale of the business. The $40,000 settlement represents the $30,000 price of the salon, plus an additional $10,000, according to the AG.
After a worker was injured on the job, Tatyana forced its employees to sign contracts saying they were actually independent contractors, and fired eight who refused, he added. They now will get the $40,000.
Bliss Nail Salon’s manicurist, a Nepali immigrant who spoke little English, worked as a “trainee” for three months from March through May 2012, received small amounts of money for food and was paid $30 for a 10-hour work day, Schneiderman said. She will be paid more than $5,000 by the company.
Under New York Labor Law, employers must pay at least the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, plus overtime for hours past 40 at one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay. The law strictly prohibits retaliation against employees who have complained about violations to the employers or reported violations to the government.
Deborah Axt, co-executive director of the workers’ advocacy group Make the Road New York, which referred the hair salon case to the AG’s office, said that minimum wage theft cases happen often with immigrant workers.
“We helped pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act in 2010 and the Department of Labor is supposed to be in charge of this enforcement, but cases are backed up by two years,” said Axt. “If you complain today about wage theft, they probably won’t begin an investigation for at least one or likely two years. We have hundreds of members at Make the Road who are still waiting for the Department of Labor to handle these cases.”
Axt noted that undocumented immigrants have rights as well, including the right to be paid overtime and the minimum wage.
Luna Ranjit, co-founder and executive director of Adhikaar, an organization serving New York’s Nepali-speaking community, said, “We thank the attorney general for recognizing that enforcing minimum wage laws is very important for low-wage workers, including those who work long hours in salons across the state, and for working hard to achieve justice in this case.”
Adhikaar had referred the Bliss case to the AG’s office.